Are We Listening?

The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010. Although I filter some of the sharpness through the scope of her “youth”, I’m reflective on her argument… which; although directed at the Public School System in the US, clearly resonates in public and private school across the western world.

I have added a link to the full text version under the video.

Here I Stand Erica Goldson


Is Technology Taking Our Breath Away?

I love e-technology. I love what it aspires to deliver – especially in the classroom. I am always experimenting with new ways for students to connect with their learning even through the erratic fast pace of comp-volution (I made that word up – the spell check won’t like it).  I can confess, that I rarely feel “on top” of it; indeed, I am often its slave – and a loyal one at that.

This year, I have been challenged. In the midst of overseeing our 1:1 iPad Rollout, IT Funding Applications, LMSs (Learning Management System – for us – Schoology) and School Blogs – I’ve rediscovered an old treasure – nature. Perhaps I was suffering from NDD (That’s homework – if you type in “NDD” and “Louv” into Google you’ll know what I’m alluding to 🙂 OR read here  for cheats)

I’m losing weight at the moment – a belated New Year’s Resolution. I’ve clocked off 10kg to date (don’t worry – I’m going somewhere with this – and what’s a little self-glorification between friends?). I’m walking… a lot! Last week my son and I walked to church together (instead of the normal drive) – we took a back path and found some … unexpected delights. A HUGE butterfly which was in the final throws of life which sparked an amazing conversation with Mr 6. We walked past a straight line of HUGE trees and the wind caught it in such a way as to boom its audible authority on the moment. Finally, we found a huge Community Garden right next to the SKATE PARK and only 224 steps from my daughter’s school (Yes – I was wearing my pedometer :)). The Community Garden has been running for over a year and they only have 45 members! Suffice to say, we were late for church but I attest that we both felt more ready for what church might offer.

I should have captured some of those moments WITH MY iPAD 2… I had it with me!

A day later, I did stop to capture a snap. It’s not going go down in history as a “Yellow Taxi – Put-Up-A-Parking-Lot” moment but it caught me in my musings. The footpath in these photos has been closed, whilst a brand new one has been built immediately adjacent. The new pathway is faster and functional but I suspect there’s more character and grit in this one. Like I said, nothing ground breaking (and there will be no National Geographic Photographic Award) but I found some remnant of truth I could apply;

  • Should I retire the school library because we have instant e-encyclopedias at our finger-tips?
  • Do I only view nature through a screen?
  • Can I recall the fun of being dirty, sweaty, smelly and wet?
  • Am I losing the personal art of phoning/hand-writing instead of email, visiting instead of meeting, creating instead of buying?
  • Do I watch the game on TV, watch the game live or attempt to play the game?
  • Do I make time for time in nature like I make time to watch the West Wing?
  • Do I spend as much time developing real educational experiences as I do virtual ones? At school and for own Mr 6 and Miss 7?

Progressive schools are well in on this debate with many starting to rein-in the total e-centric curriculum (and its associated spendings) to ensure that students are the first focus of our engagement. Kate Bassett’s article, “New technology or imagination: Finding that balance” is worthy to consider for educational leaders who are in over-drive with staying at the fore of e-learning (My Holy Grail?).

As a passionate e-educator, I don’t subscribe to every point of concern but I do believe that “Balance” is the key word, particularly for the youngest in our care. At best e-technology is a catalyst to accelerated learning and a tool for documenting experience – a portfolio of personal learning in partnership; at worst a didactic tool which only seeks to reproduce knowledge-based learning with little focus on creativity.

Here is a preview from the Emmy Award Winning Film (“Where Do the Children Play?”) that Bassett refers to in her article;