Happy Birthday Jude

Jude2004 celebrated his 51st birthday yesterday. In his comment on Act like Natives, he (or she) claims to know more about technology than his students. He claims to be a native. Do I believe him? I sure do.

Wake countyYesterday I had the pleasure of presenting to nearly 200 school technology contact people here in Wake County (Raleigh). They were teachers, media specialists, a couple of assistant principals, and a handful of tech facilitators. I like to start this presentation by harkening back to those giddy days just before the Web, when a very few of us were paying attention, and recognizing that something BIG was on the horizon.

I asked how many of them had used Gopher. About three-forths of the hands went up. This surprised me. I asked about Telnet. Again, a vast majority of the hands when up. Then I asked how many had heard of blogs, and to no surprise, most of the hands went up. But when I asked..

How many were blogging, I saw only three hands.

How many read blogs? Perhaps 20.

How many had listened to a podcast? Maybe ten.

How many had podcasted? Zero!

How many used flickr? Zero!

How many knew about social bookmarks? Zero!

Delicious (del.icio.us)? Zero!

An interesting number, zero. On a school paper, it means you didn’t do your assignment.

These are educators who, in the early 1990s, were on the edge. They were paying attention, recognizing an emerging revolution in information, and latching on. What happened between then and now? Why have they missed the new revolution?

Am I missing something?

Or could it be, that the continuing dominant teaching tool of today’s classrooms, the textbook, could not possibly hold any information about the new web? Could it be that we have come such a short distance in our schools since 1990, that our teachers are less equipped, less encouraged, and far less free to pay attention to the world around them, than they were more than a decade ago?

We desperately need… we may not survive without… a generation of young people who are imaginative, inventive, fearless learners, and compassionate leaders. Yet, what can we say, as educators, about the students we are producing. We can prove that they can read, do basic math on paper, and they are able to sit for hours filling in bubble sheets.

No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the industrial age.

How have we allowed ourselves to be led by such a miserable lack of imagination?

I have got to get out of this funk!

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.