Saturday, November 6, 2010

Something we create for ourselves

Things are changing.

Technology has not only revolutionized how the masses share information, but it has also liberated the masses to be creators of information. No longer do the select, privileged few maintain a monopoly on content. 

Content is cheap...

...but the imagination, creativity and courage to share it all is not.

Seth Godin writes about this:

More people than ever are creators. More people than ever go to work to use their minds, not just their hands. And more people than ever have a platform to share their point of view. I think that raises the bar for our understanding of how the world works.
Those who think blogging is merely an act of arrogance or wonder where someone can find the time or why someone would risk saying something they could be reprimanded for simply don't get it... yet.

I know far too many teachers who don't read a lick of literature on education... and many of them seem to wear it as a badge of honor. (I often wonder if its the former or the latter that concerns me the most) If you ask these deliberately uninformed teachers their opinion on classroom management, homework, standardized testing, textbooks or curriculum they all have an opinion.

They just know.

These are the same teachers who wait for the next externally imposed professional development day that their principal mandates or their superintendent dictates and then bitch that their needs weren't met by someone they hardly know. 

Stephen Downes, a Canadian education technology specialists begs us to reconsider our docility:

We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves. It is time, in other words, that we change out attitude toward learning and the educational system in general.

When Downes wrote this, I think he had the kids in mind, but I know he would agree that this should apply to all members of our species - even teachers!

As frustrated as this reality makes me, I am hopeful... in many ways that is why I blog.

I am hopeful that we can reach out to others and help influence them to start: 
  • asking the tough questions
  • challenging authority
  • creating content
  • reflecting on our practices
  • taking ownership of their own learning
  • thinking for themselves
What if the most influential people in children's lives modeled these characteristics?


  1. This applies to school board trustees too! And it reminds me of sitting in a school principal's office years ago, as a school council sec./treasurer and noticing there was not a single book on the bookshelf about education - lots of cookbooks and crafts handbooks. *sigh*

  2. Joe,

    being a teacher is so fun now, I don't know how teachers who don't learn and share can survive much longer! According to Dean Shareski, sharing is imperative, not an option

  3. What do teachers create ?

    some teachers congratulate themselves on the 100% graduation, 86 distinctions and A's etc

    but I think it is the job of teachers to produce students who consider him as their teacher. In the great places of learning , students were proud to be called students of ... and considered him to be their mentor.

    Alfie Kohn talks of how kids will remember a teacher as someone who cared about him or did not care about him ,despite his not being compliant and doing his school work , I think teachers should consider how students will remember them as ones who contributed to their education , their social and moral development and will always have fond memories.

  4. Joe, this post speaks to me. I've often thought about the fact that teachers "know" everything there is to know about education yet do not read books, articles, journals on education. How can this be? Simply put, it is not so, captain! I also like the Steven Downes point that education should be something we create for ourselves. Reading bloggs, tweets, etc. sure has catapulted my understanding of education to another level.

  5. Joe,

    Nice post. Much of what you wrote here resonates with me and you've given me some reading to do by linking to the Downes post. Here's hoping that open learning experiences in courses like etmooc can help teachers assume agency for their own professional learning.