It’s in the Questions We Ask

edublogs: Sparknotes straight to mobile:

If your kid called you up in the middle of an exam and asked for help would you be annoyed?

Ewan Mcintosh would be, especially if his students knew that they could access SparksNotes directly with their MMS enabled mobile phones.  Go to Ewan’s blog to learn more about SparksNotes on a phone, but I’d like to comment just a bit here.

Many years ago, interested family members were invited to come to the Warlick home, a house that was built buy my great great grandfather, Maxwell, a fifth generation Warlick who still spoke German as his primary language.  The last Warlick to live there, a great uncle, had just died and the house was being sold outside the family.  So we were invited to come and pick and keep anything that we wanted.  I got a quilt.  But I also got a very keen sense of the households that lived there over the past nearly two-hundred years.

I knew that education was very important to the family.  The sons were sent to a boarding school in Pennsylvania.  My grandfather and one of his brothers each got college degrees in the early years of the 20th century.  His brother (and the last inhabitant of the  family home) earned a degree in engineering at North Carolina State University, and my grandfather a degree in the classics from the University of North Carolina.

Yet, I saw little or no evidence that the house ever held very much information.  I am certain that they did not receive magazines or newspapers.  The house was many hours buggy ride from the nearest town, Lincolnton.  There were probably a few books in the house, but not many and they were not regularly updated.  My point is that being educated in that time was defined by how much knowledge you could hold in your head.  It’s where Information was stored — in our heads.

Today, we almost literally swim in information.  It is in our walls, on our desks, in the very air that we breath.  We carry access to a global library of content in our pockets.  Yet we still largely define education on 19th century terms, how much you can memorize and recall.

Enough said — except that this how theme reminds me of something a superintendent said to me last year (2006) as he was taking me on a tour of his South Dakota district.  He said that we are asking to many questions that require an answer, when we should be asking questions that require a conversation.

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.