Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On the Edge?

What follows is my response to a teacher named Paul, who posted on the English Companion Ning, and expressed the feelings that he was "losing his edge" to teaching with technology, to students learning with technology.  As becomes obvious, he strikes with me a chord, a kindred sense of handling the need for clarity in what makes "21st century learning" relevant. Perhaps you, too, feel as if you are losing your edge, a bit out of touch, as Flip cams, document cams, PowerPoints and Prezis, blogs and wikis, netbooks and iPads join our worlds. If so, take heart.

You are not alone. And you're not out of touch. Just the reverse. You're ahead of the pack with regard to sensing the urgency of finding the right balance. Yes, education is embracing technology, at a somewhat slower pace than general culture even, and we need address the whole host of 21st century learning skills and knowledge (by which I mean 90% of what we've known education to be for past twenty centuries).

Keep those strategies of working with words on paper as well as texting on iPads, of looking into students eyes sans webcams, of asking students to talk with note cards as well as with a slide show, of reciting a poem with emotion and meaning in a circle, of improvising a scene of process drama to find out how people might get on in a real-world situation instead of a virtual gaming scenario, of drawing a map or illustrating a episode with paints as well as with video cams, of reading aloud and reading silently, sustained, and deeply, besides browsing a search and clicking through a web reference.

I try technology in my teaching as quickly as the next teacher. I'm chairing the "21st Century Learning Committee" in our K-12 district. I know I'm "perpetual beta." But, I as we move forward with technology, our students will be served with our humanity. Indeed, English class may be one of its last (and first!) reserves. In any case it never becomes irrelevant.

Perhaps you not losing your last edge as much as finding your next groove.

Image credit: "The Edge of My World." By Eye of Einstein. 21 Feb. 2008. Flickr.

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