The Problem with Curiosity

I’m noticing an unusual pattern of late. In education, there’s a strong underlying message to bring back or maintain curiosity and wonder as the foundation of learning. Meanwhile the media, both mass and traditional and social is intent on killing curiosity. Whether it’s politics, racism, environmental or a host of other modern issues, the message is pretty standard.

“Unless you believe me/us, you’re stupid or evil.”

The problem with curiosity is, it’s nice in theory, it might work in schools, but in the real world, curiosity is not valued and it’s often disdained.

I understand the passion the people have about many of these issues. But the absence of wonder and curiosity sends exactly the opposite message to our children when it comes to lifelong learning. The shortage of thoughtful, welcoming conversation and discourse is alarming. For a person genuinely interested in learning about two or more sides of an issue, good luck. There aren’t many safe places to ask questions and learn. Phrase a question incorrectly, and you’ll be hammered and chastised for your ignorance. So instead of engaging in civil discourse, you’re forced to choose a side and be bombarded inside an echo chamber that paints their opposition … Read the rest

When Beauty Leads to Empathy

I’ve been blessed to speak to a variety of audiences and events around the world. But in September it was my great privilege to speak alongside my youngest daughter to a TEDx audiences in West Vancouver.

Having spoken in West Vancouver a few years ago, I was asked to return. A few weeks before my invitation, Martha, who was in grade 12 mentioned that one day she would love to give a TED talk. So I asked Craig Cantlie if he might be willing to take a chance and have Martha and I speak together. Craig listened to our proposal for a talk which was really a thread of an idea and decided to take a chance.

This talk is based on Martha’s passion around feminism. She has taught me a great deal and I tried to take her learning and mine and put it in a broader context. Our process of collaboration began with her writing what she wanted to say. I then tried to compliment her story as best I could.

Given the events of the past few weeks, I think the talk offers much to ponder. My personal passion for civil discourse and a focus … Read the rest

Reminding Myself to Keep My Mouth Shut

I believe strongly in debate and civil discourse. I’ve gone so far as to design a course that explores what this looks like particularly online. I’ve not hesitated to critique language and ideas I think may be harmful. 

That disposition always needs to be tempered with an understanding of the world we live in. Social media means the newest app, trend or idea often gets positioned as revolutionary and then immediately bashed by naysayers. Neither are right. 


Pokemon Go arrives and soon folks go from downloading to playing to seeing potential for learning. As quickly as that’s shared, they take a beating. I was one who downloaded the game and before I could play was immersed in the hype and sniffed the “game changer” claims. 

But before I hit the snark button I better step back. Just because someone thinks something has potential and gets a bit excited doesn’t mean we attack. This happens too often to anyone suggesting something might have educational value. I’ve been guilty of this myself. What I need to remind myself is to keep quiet and let people play. 

In the classroom I remember introducing my kids to new technologies. Dating myself, I recall handing … Read the rest

“I Couldn’t Agree More” is Meh.

First off, if you rarely read the comments in a blog, you ignore the fact that some of the best learning comes from those who respond and contribute additional ideas, perspectives and insights. Grant it, many spaces, like news sites and youtube are often places where civil discourse is difficult to find. But many blogs, particularly educational blogs offer some of the best places for conversation. Blogs are by nature conversational. Posts are meant to be reviewed, discusses and challenged in the same spaces.

agreeYet, perhaps it’s the overly kind nature of many educators or a fear to engage in meaningful debate, it’s amazing how often I read a blog with some interesting ideas and the comments are filled with replies beginning with “I couldn’t agree more.” Now certainly there are many times when that’s exactly how you feel and so you post with enthusiasm the joy of finding a kindred spirit, I’m not here to criticize you if you’ve ever began a comment like that. Well, maybe a little criticism. 😉

I’m here to suggest that if you only leave those kind of comments then maybe you aren’t putting yourself in a position to think critically or maybe you … Read the rest

Sustaining Digital Literacy

I’m excited to be teaching a course in a few weeks for Wilkes University called “Sustaining Digital Literacy” as part of the new EDGE offering. Essentially this is a great way to quickly get yourself up to speed with emerging technologies.

The course I’m offering focuses on a few things:

  • Finding trusted people who are doing the heavy lifting of research and implementation

This is more than about a Personal Learning Network but a more focused look at how to find people who doing interesting work and sharing it in such a way that one can not only tap into their research but also view issues from multiple perspectives. Today’s challenge is the traditional research is often difficult to find. A shift to participating and observing action research that is less formal is critical. We can’t, and don’t need to wait till the white paper is published.

  • Understanding and valuing civil discourse

5848124488_6a726f3535_mCivil discourse is something I’m highly cognizant about and when it works, it’s a powerful thing. Case in point this recent discussion on Google Glass. You don’t need to know much about Glass but you really get two distinct perspectives, some you may not have considered. You … Read the rest