Thursday, August 19, 2010

When Did "Get" Become "Be"?

Recently I was on website devoted to education, where the author suggested that teachers "Get creative."  I bristled. Not at the idea, but the phrasing.

When did "get" become "be"?

Somewhere between the 1980s "Get psyched" and the 1990s "Get amazed."  Or do we need to go back to the early 1970s and the Partridge Family's "Come On, Get Happy." Or even further to the depression era tune by Arlen and Koehler, simply "Get Happy."

In all of these phrases, "get" is a verb that should mean "acquire," and therefore, I expect a noun not an adjective to follow. As in:
"Get creativity."
"Get excitement." (I'm guessing at a rather homophonic aural morph from "excited" to "psyched")
"Get amazement."
"Get happiness."
Okay, so these phrases are not the stuff that advertisers or cheerleaders are going to bark any time soon.

The problem is not really with the adjectives, it's with the verb. "Get" has taken over "be."

How does this happen? Perhaps there is something existential going on here.  After all "get" is much more aggressive than "be."  "Get is active, and "be," well, being intransitive, it just is.  The zen of be first, do second, and have third, comes to mind. "Get" puts us in reverse.

I fear, though, in this acquisitive consumerist culture, I'm on a loser.  But maybe we can "be creative" and discover something we can do to save "be," and save "get" for those things to be had. 

For certain, I would  be excited, be amazed and be happy if we could.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's Old and New and 21?

Twenty-first Century teaching and learning means 90% of what and how master teachers have been teaching all along and 10% explicit instruction and practice with digital technology. The 21st Century themes as indentified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills as environment, finance, health, civil and global literacies may have lost some prominence in recent years as reading "content" gave way to "skills." This is a reminder that the what is as important as the how and vice versa. In noticing what is different (the 10%) about 21st Century learning we might miss the core. As ever, what is being read and written (i.e. consumed and produced in a variety of media) is as important as how. If we bear this in mind we need not lose time playing with the toys of technology but use them as tools to literacy.

I  believe 21st Century education is a blend of traditional themes and novel technology in service to the enduring and essential questions. It's as much about our common humanity as ever because technology is shrinking the globe. Our students not only are going to have to deal with keeping their batteries charged but also working with or competing agains their peers half a world away.  Ethics, civics, and just good ole common sense are values for the post-Me generations.  The relationships and relevancy that engage learners are perhaps heightened nowadays, but everpresent in good teaching of yore.

Twenty-first century learning, in toto, may be a reminder of what great English language arts teaching has always been (and a call to realign our practice), as well as a call to work with ICT and audio-visual media with new emphasis.

Image created on "NGA Kids ARTZONE Collage Machine II." National Gallery of Art. Web.