Another Missed Opportunity

 80 215031845 93Aeb93Ad6 MThere are so many podcast worthy moments that just pass me by. I actually had my iPod and iTalk with me, but the ambient noise of the restaurant would simply have made the conversation to difficult to follow.

I’m talking about having dinner, last night, with the head master and technology team of Lausanne Collegiate School, where I taught staff development during the day. (See A Good Day in Memphis)

Bottom line? 1:1 does not provide all the answers. In fact, it provokes lots of new questions, which is the approach of the school’s chief administrator, Stuart McCathie. He believes in, promotes quite eloquently, and offers lots of examples for, facilitating more powerful learning by asking a different kind of question. What occurred to me, as he was talking, was that most of our questions ask for answers. McCathie is suggesting questions that ask for conversations. Engaged in conversation, students become responsible to a community for what they find and learn. Answering a question is merely between the student and the teacher.

I am ever more impressed by the almost overwhelming challenges of working in a 1:1 teaching/learning environment. It requires so many shifts, most of them subtle, but no less difficult for a teacher — even young teachers. Even a first year teacher has 12+ years of experience in traditional classrooms. The challenges are enormous — but we simply have no choice!

I left even more convinced that contemporary literacy can be a potent angle to make these shifts from, that it isn’t about the new tools on students desks, but the new access to information and the new abilities to produce information. The answer, I believe, can be as simple as The Beacon School’s approach of simply saying, “At this point, no student work will be turned in on paper. Everything will be done digitally.” It’s a focus on the nature of the information, not the shape of the pencil.

Finally, the school conducted a survey of their students last year, asking a committee of students to help with the process. The first thing that the committee did was to replace the questions that had been posed by the school with their own questions. I only had time to get tidbits about the survey, but the students wanted to do more gaming and social networking and IM’ing in their classrooms. No surprise there. But that’s where they are! It’s where they’ll be! I think that we need to look seriously for ways to reflect, in our classrooms, this information landscape that is so much a part of our children’s experience.

2¢ Worth

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.