Friday, May 22, 2009

Chapter Nine: Coming to Terms

Last week I had coffee with my friend Ryan who I've mentioned in this blog before. I've been thinking about him a lot while I'm taking this class because he is a writer, a teacher and kind of a techie, too. Somehow, he has reconciled these traits and in him, they work. In speaking with him, I relayed to him my concern about technology getting in the way of our experiences and our stories. I gave him the example that I gave in my technology autobiography of the culminating moment in a college football game and everyone in the stands watching the field through the lens of a camera or camera phone--- experiencing this awesome moment through a camera! So, their memory of the event is going to be about getting the picture and NOT the CATCH!!! It was then that he told me Plato's story of King Thamus and Theuth. Theuth was an inventor type of guy who discovered numbers and astronomy and... writing! So, Theuth goes to Thamus to tell him of this amazing discovery that was a "potion for memory and for wisdom." King Thamus did not like this new idea of writing saying that "memory" or "knowledge" are internal and written characters are external. The ensuing knowledge from reading these characters then would not really become a part of the reader. I could talk about this story forever, but I'll stop myself now and try to connect it to the reading.

Things are changing... these shifts that Richardson describes are very real and they are a good thing! Students should be collaborating, building, conversing, reasoning. I love that I am entering the teaching field during a time where the teacher is more a facilitator and listener than lecturer. I love to talk, don't get me wrong. Eventually, though, I begin to bore even myself. As much as some of the technological expectations before me make me a little uncomfortable, most of them are great ways to engage and explore the curriculum.

When I think about the act of writing--- like putting pen to paper and expressing an idea through written characters- when I think of that as technology, as an advance of some kind, it helps me to see that change, although strange, can be life-changing opening doors of creativity that once were closed. Think about what our world would be like without written language! If this new writing, this new literacy, is anywhere near as powerful as old technologies like photography, sound recordings, and yes, writing, then we humans will certainly be better for it. As long as I don't pick up a copy of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" fifty years from now and see a bunch of ones and zeroes on the page, I'll be okay with it.

Here is a link to Plato's Phaedrus if anyone would like to read it.

(I can't get blogger to post a link... sorry. You'll have to copy and paste.)


Anonymous said...

"I love that I am entering the teaching field during a time where the teacher is more a facilitator and listener than lecturer." ~Amber

Amen! Freedom from lecture is awesome. Also, teaching students worthwhile SKILLS that are applicable to their lives is great. For instance, (this is a little off topic, but what the heck) I loved Home Economics in high school. I learned more from that class than probably any other that I took. Why? Because I learned things I can use! I know how to use a sewing machine, cook Chex-Mix :), use a pattern, etc. because I took that class. To me, teaching is all about imparting useful skills to kids. That is why I like many of the points Richardson makes in his book. Technology will be the necessary skill set for the future that kids must learn (however, I want more schools to bring Home Ec back too.)

CEJ said...

I could not agree more that we are embarking on a new and exciting time in the education world...Richardson talks about finally being freed from textbook companies. Liberating our schools from the costs of texts opens up worlds of possiblities, like having lower student to adult ratios. This means more facilitators to help our students learn skills from creating podcasts to making chex mix. I do not intend to sound anti-book but the textbooks are not my favorite source of information and we spend tons of money on them in schools (not to mention students waste valuable time doing inane busy-work from them).

brittney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brittney said...

I too love the fact that teachers spend less time lecuturing and more time facilitating. This is why using technology is so important because it keeps students attention rather than listening to a boring teahcer talk or reading out of a boring book.