The Obesity of the Mind

Being a good citizen today is exhausting. Being a good American citizen is a whole other level of exhaustion. Everyone around the world has been hit by the #$I*% storm that is American politics. Every news site and media outlet are dedicated to covering every aspect of the new presidency. If you consume media, even entertainment, it’s very hard to avoid it.

After the last several months using Facebook, in particular, I just got overwhelmed. The concept of “you are what you eat” flooded my consciousness. Facebook’s awful filtering and algorithms are worse for your brain than a Chuck E. Cheese pizza. I was feeling bloated and queasy. Almost everyone was sharing their opinions coupled with some reference to another story that was written to foster controversy at best, hate at worst. I just had enough. Scrolling through various news channels in my hotel room one night, I had come to the same conclusion. I just needed a break. I wondered, is it possible to be over informed?

As someone who advocates for and presents often on the value of citizenship, this might seem somewhat incongruent. I do a number of presentations designed to help teachers help their students navigate … Read the rest

How to Become a Brand. Or Not.

Becoming a brand takes intention and thought. It is by definition a marketing approach. In our current era, this is not exclusively for products and organizations but individuals. Educators, specifically are often encouraged to “build their personal brand“. I’ve seen others, incorporate strategies that have led them to successfully creating a brand. Let me share a few things that may help you to build your personal brand.

  1. The majority of your tweets should be links to other sites. A tweet without one has no value. Bonus if you auto-tweet them all day long. Make your brand 24/7.
  2. Never post personal content. No one wants to hear about your naps or golf game or shopping excursions with your wife. The more you tweet about yourself as a human being, the more your brand loses its focus. People use twitter for information, not your silly natterings.
  3. Blog like an expert. Your blog posts should be stand-alone artifacts of authority. Questioning your practice or showing ambivalence makes you look weak. Write as if you’re the smartest person in the room.
  4. Never engage in conversation on twitter. When people question you or reach out to you, ignore them. It’s a time and
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Being Self-Aware

Mirrors

I’ve had a few conversations lately with family, friends and colleagues about self-awareness. I find it fascinating as a personal introspective but wondering if it can be and should be explicitly taught. For the most part, I consider myself pretty self-aware. I suppose most people would say the same. We like to think we’re honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses and foibles and annoyances. It usually takes more than simply being reflective to address this. It requires the eyes of others to at times let you know when you’ve missed the mark or even when you’ve done well but weren’t even aware of the impact. On more than one occasion, I’ve come to terms with my own lack of self-awareness.

Exhibit 1:

I’m one of the worst complimenters on the planet. This is now a running joke among the folks I work with at Discovery Education. I have a bad habit of using “actually” or some other odd qualifier when I give people a compliment. “Actually, that’s not a bad shot” (ask Steve Dembo for the full story) I certainly wasn’t aware I was doing this but after being called on it more than once, I now can … Read the rest

Visitors and Residents and Digital Citizenship

My recent post and exploring on residents vs visitors makes me think about some of the problems around the conversations about digital citizenship. When schools and districts want to discuss digital citizenship they usually want to emphasize the dangers and problems of thoughtless online behaviour. The tagline for digital citizenship for many educators is “don’t do bad stuff”. I think one of the reasons is that most people remain visitors of the web. In the same way when you take your children to visit another country or even another family, making sure your kids behave themselves is the focus. You don’t want them to wreck anything. It’s largely about damage control. Conversely, when you’re part of a community, a resident of a country, your belief about citizenship is as much about contributions and impact rather than simply not doing bad things. When we grant someone citizenship we speak of responsibility to make things better, not just staying out of trouble. The message that most students are receiving about how to live and act online is coming from visitors. Since many of them are residents, this is an obvious disconnect. It would be like me telling my American colleagues how to … Read the rest

The Mixed Message of Digital Citizenship

Whenever I hear the term “digital citizenship” I usually am skeptical. When we began using the term several years ago, it typically focused on keeping kids safe online. It was generally a scare tactic that told students that they should be wary of posting anything online because it’s forever. The assumption was kids will post inappropriate stuff.  Recently the message has softened and most acknowledge kids are going to be posting online and so the message is about posting only the good stuff. These messages have some truth but like most things are nuanced and require more discussion than simple posters or mantras can provide. Jared Heidinger shared this video

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

There’s a lot here to discuss but the part that hit me was at the  2:30 mark. My kids, who are teenagers and adults, often tell me how they get annoyed at many people’s facebook and instagram postings because they always refer to how awesome their life is.

“Reading a great book”
“My wonderful husband just made me the most delicious meal”
“Enjoying a glass of wine while viewing the beautiful sunset”

Updated content: This video says it well…… Read the rest