A Billion Amateurs & Your Flat Classroom

There are several things that I like about formated RSS Aggregators. One is the ability to include a variety of media types on my aggregation page, including photos from flickr. My Aggregator (NetVibes) has a news page (news and news search feeds), education page (edubloggers and education news feeds), a tech page (self-expanatory), new media (web2.0 stuff), and entertainment (top grossing films, new films, new on DVD, etc.).

On my media page, I have aggregated the latest photo posted on flickr and tagged with Web2.0, and this morning I was treated to an interesting piece by cz_20turbo, who takes pictures with a message — written on them. This morning, it was a cropped photo of a WIRED Magazine cover with the words, A Billion Amateurs Want your Job.

I read this two ways. First of all, and probably the intended meaning, in a time of rapid change, where life-long-learning is the fuel that drives success. As the Partnership for 21st Century Skills reminds us, “Today’s students will have 10.2 jobs between the ages of 18 and 38.” Go outside the world of education and ask a group of adults how many of them are making a living doing what they learned to do in college. Very few will raise their hands. It’s a time of amateurs, because in a time of rapid change, we’re all making it up 😉 — and isn’t that exciting?

But the other thoughts that Turbo’s picture conjured were not so exciting. It’s a unique quality of teaching, education, and flat classrooms, that everyone is an expert. Most people have spent at least 12 or 13 years in classrooms, and the very nature of that experience was to instill deep seated notions of how we should learn — to be taught. We’re all experts, and we all have a rather firm image, or story, of how teaching and learning should happen and what a classroom should look like. A billion amateurs want to tell you how to do YOUR job.

We need to stir those impressions up, mix the colors, bring the heavy ingredients up to the surface and swirl the lighter ones down through the depths of the story. To do this, we need energy and an information environment that is dynamic, compelling, and accessible.

The energy is easy — our students. We need to learn to harness their curiosity, intrinsic need to communicate and influence other people, and the orientation to the future of now. The information environment, whose ecology feeds off of energy and access, is here and begging to be used. We need to communicate, tell stories, showcase learning and teaching — by learners and teachers. We need school and classroom web sites that are constantly changing, constantly new, and are a lens on to 21st century teaching and learning — and a lens on the future.

We need to stir things up and shatter the old stories. Think about it this summer, and rest, and play, and invent new stories about your job and its mission, and read. —– and thank you!

Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth Among Younger Baby Boomers: Recent Results From a Longitudinal Survey Summary, US Dept. of Labor, 2004. <http://www.bls.gov/news.release/nlsoy.nr0.htm>.

Photo Citation
cz_20turbo, “A Billion Amateurs want your job….and They will Probably Get It.” Cz_20turbo’s Photostream. 22 May 2006. flickr. 23 May 2006 <http://www.flickr.com/photos/cz_20turbo/151603206/>.

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