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

Insight and Inspiration 

There are some people that inspire me and some people that make me think. Sometimes they are the same person. Sometimes they aren’t. I see the act of inspiring people different from being insightful.

People that inspire me are those who display extraordinary determination or will to overcome challenges. Sometimes they are people who have shown a consistent character over time.

My Dad inspires me. He’s been an example to me for my whole life. His legacy speaks for itself. His faith and approach to life are honorable, to say the least.

 

 

 

 

My wife inspires me. She’s not only a fantastic mother and wife and educator but knowing some of her recent health challenges, makes what does even more impressive.

 

 

 

Lance Rougeux inspires me. I’ve worked for Lance for 5 years. He’s the best leader I’ve ever seen.  He constantly filters out the things that don’t concern his team. He’s never too busy for anyone and is the first to share gratitude. His goal is to make everyone’s job easier. He’s had to deal a lot but never complains.

People I find insightful are those that are typically well read and also are … Read the rest

The Least Talked About Problem in EdTech

Having been involved with educational technology for almost 20 years, I’ve had more than my share of conversations around the issues of  implementation, integration, transformation, use of technology in the classrooms. People are usually quick to point out the barriers which are mostly around leadership and pedagogy and more recently the word is mindset.

But no amount of change in mindset addresses the least talked about problem with edtech. Bandwidth.

Maslow Wifi

 

My journeys have led me to work with some wonderful educators who indeed have a resiliency and passion for innovation. They are the ones who create work arounds when a site is down or blocked, they tether their phones to create wifi for their students. They spent hours editing video and installing apps on their student devices. While they are great champions and sometimes are highlighted, they are a problem in that leaders assume all teachers can and should act in this way.

Imagine teaching English using books with half the pages ripped out. That’s essentially what it’s like for teachers trying to use devices with no bandwidth.

Bandwidth issues aren’t talked about largely because we aren’t quite sure what the issue is. Is it a small pipe? Is … Read the rest

When Sharing Goes Bad, Pithy Quote Fetish and Kids These Days

I left a comment on Wes’ blog after this rather unfortunate event happened. I decided to repost here with a few additional thoughts and modifications.

 

Photo: by Wes Fryer https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/11866202466/

 

I think there are three issues that come to mind for me:

1. It’s important we understand and accept the trade offs with technology. Too often we in the ed tech community have to oversell technology in order to make in roads. We’re not naive, I don’t think we ignore the downsides, but perhaps if we prepare folks for deeper understanding, these kinds of things won’t be seen as a reason to discontinue. 99.99% of my experience in sharing has been overwhelmingly positive. I have to think that for most people who have made sharing a part of  what they do, it’s similar. But I’m afraid if you’ve not made this your default, it might make you gun shy. That’s unfortunate. Yes, occasionally sharing goes bad. But in the same way that being kind can backfire, I hope it wouldn’t stop you from continuing to be kind. Understand this comes with the territory. Some might suggest Wes shouldn’t post pictures of his kids. I disagree. Many of his … Read the rest

Don’t Ask People What They Want

Cross posted at the Huffington Post.

Steve Jobs never believed in focus groups. Guy Kawasaki, who worked for Apple and Steve Jobs said, "Apple Market research is an oxymoron. If you ask people what they want they'll tell you "Better, faster and cheaper"- that is better sameness, not revolutionary change. Many other innovators have echoed similar sentiments. This flies in the face of the idea that the customer is always right. Jobs also said "people don't know what they want until you show it to them" No doubt he was a brash visionary that designed some very innovative products that many people adore. 

In education I hear this sentiment a lot lately: "Involve and engage all stakeholders". That sounds lovely. Why wouldn't we want input for parents and the community? All stakeholders in this case probably means every parent and taxpayer. That's a lot of people with a lot of ideas about what school should look like.  There's a desire to be transparent and be collaborative. These are words I use with great frequency to describe learning. But I'm beginning to question these ideas when it comes to making bold moves in education. 

I think of … Read the rest