Should it Matter?

Flickr photo by Andy Carvin

Educon 2.1 is over and I have so many regrets — so many people I did not get to talk with.  Entirely unsatisfying.  Next year, I’m there for three-days.  I sat in on some fabulous sessions, and they were conversational in nature — as advertised.  I did hear that some of the sessions ended out being presentations, and I suppose that’s fine as long as it was clear from the start that folks were there to listen and pay attention.

I guess that the greatest “aha!” realization to me happened with the early morning panel discussion.  I live blogged my notes here.  First of all, Chris Lehmann “gets it.”  I knew he “gets it” before the panel.  He’s not the only person I know who “gets it” and he wasn’t the only person on the panel.  But I can’t think of anyone who is in such a perfect position to test “it” and demonstrate what he gets.  There are folks I know who are cultivating similar situations, and they are going to be worth watching, but SLA is there..

However, there were two elements of the panel’s conversation that — quicken my heart.  One was Gary Stager’s opening and the list of what he believes — and just about everything else he said.  I was especially taken with his demand that reform needs to happen locally.  I didn’t realize the importance of this statement until a conversation that I had with Steve Hargadon at the end of the day.  Stager questions a lot of what I say and write, and I learn from his challenges, but he sees the evils of what has happened to education during the past several years, and he hammers it ruthlessly — and I thank him.

On the other hand, there were two other panelists who stirred my soul a bit, and in the other direction.  I do not clearly remember which of the panel members they were, so I’ll not use names here.  But on several occasions during the conversation, the importance of “data” to education today was expressed.  Now I get data.  I understand its value under some circumstances.  Yet when I hear people exulting data collection as a principle way of educating children, I feel that we are being drawn away from the things that I truly value in teaching — in being a teacher.  It’s because I am, admittedly, a romantic when it comes to education.  It’s about relationships, environment, and activity.  I know that disaggregated data can help, but there’s something about the scale that bothers me.  Enough said…

Flickr Photo by Setev

My main point is, “Should it matter?”  When I try to think about and try to visualize learning 2.0, I’m still getting a fairly blurred picture.  It’s the purpose of these conferences, to clarify that image.  But I am fairly certain that in the classroom that effectively leverages the contexts and opportunities of our times, our students and their native information experience, and today’s dramatically new information environment, I can’t see that it would matter if the students are tested at the end of the year, or that data is constantly being extracted about their learning. 

What will be happening in that classroom will be so exciting and so compelling that tests and data will be nothing more than mist on the breeze.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.