Hi everyone,
The incredibly interesting forum discussion this week on the digital native, digital immigrant concept (great question, Amy!) got me thinking about something else along those lines.

Some of the things mentioned in the comments seemed not be be about technology per se, but more about how much responsibility a teacher has to understand the experiences, culture and context of the kids they teach. I often hear teachers say, "well, I don't watch TV" or they never read any popular children's books. Can you be a teacher who "gets" kids if you haven't read Harry Potter? Wouldn't it help you to understand what High School Musical is about and think about what is resonnating with the kids? What if you could help a kid understand something by likening it to Transformers or Pokemon? What if a girl who doesn't understand that she's as good at computers as the boys would understand if you talked about the pink Power Ranger?

And this is just pop culture stuff. I'm sure many teachers spend a lot of time learning about their students families and backgrounds, and it makes them more effective. Why not in technology too?

Seems like being able to make some forays into the world of the kids, even though it isn't to your personal taste, is like any other professional learning task. And if IMing or blogging or having a MySpace account is where they are, seems like it's just part of the job to check it out. IMHO, anyway ;-)

What do you think?

Tags: culture, immigrant, kid, native, teacher

Views: 25

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Sylvia,
You are always asking such good questions. I think you're right, it is the responsibility of the teacher to know something about the kids' lives, their contexts. Of course there's always the "how much" question, which is actually more a question about how much time we have to live our various lives, our personal lives, our teaching lives, our "out on expeditions to discover" lives. There's also the question of "how much" we really want to know--and potentially be responsible for or associated with--about the kids' personal lives. But I don't think that what you're talking about. I'm thinking you're talking about the students' daily social contexts; what they do, who they're connecting with, what sorts of media input they're seeking and enjoying, who they think of as their heroes and villains.

You've made me set these goals today: I should rent HS Musical, which I haven't seen yet but know is important to the children I work with, and also read some more of the Japanese graphic novels series that some are passionate about. (By the way, last year we watched a whole lot of the great animated Japanese films like Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle during our lunches in class.)

I'm learning a lot on Facebook, just through participation. Developing a pretty good school alumni group there, and providing yet one more way for kids to be in touch with each other. This is so radically different from the way I went through HS, which was mostly about alienation and disconnection! I find it simply amazing to see how kids share information, news, and "techno-packages"--tools--with each other.

Anyhow, both in technology and pop culture, it's got to be good for us to have some sense of the worlds our students inhabit. You brought up a good point. Let's share ideas about how to do this, and what to zoom in on as really important! Thanks for the post.
You know, the "heroes and villians" angle is really interesting, those characters become a metaphor of who they are. And I never thought about it in terms of "too much", but you are right.

Love to hear what you think the lessons of HS Musical are!
Knowing some of the pop culture sure can help. A couple of years ago my students were really excited about the movie Napoleon Dynamite. I happened to see that on TV this past summer. (A very peculiar yet oddly fascinating movie.) Seeing that movie revealed so much to me about my now former students and their insecurities (everyone, deep down, wants to be Napoleon Dynamite) that I can't help but wish I'd seen the movie much earlier.
Better run out and see Superbad. Raunchy, but very funny, with a real feel for how high schoolers talk amongst themselves. (t's rated R for a very good reason!)

I think that, as professionals who work with children and youth, we need to know what is going on in with them in order to make meaning of what we do. To be effective, one must know something about the people with whom one is working. It doesn't mean we divest ourselves of our adult identities. Like doctors who are learning to listen more to what is going on in patiences' lives in order to better understand what might be causing problems, we need to listen to what our students are saying and have, to some degree, an understanding of that culture.

As the discussion goes on about natives/immigrants, I wonder if we are getting caught up in a discussion of something that, at the end of the day, won't really matter. What will matter is that, instead of labeling whole sub-cultures, we look at the individuals that are before us and work with them at whatever stage they are at. Differentiating our instruction to meet the needs of our students will go much farther than trying to label them as this or that. Having been part of this discussion a number of times, I find that people have differing views about what it means to be a native or immigrant when, I believe, it doesn't really matter because we need to focus on those in front of us regardless of any label.

I do agree with your observation that some people use these labels to either opt out of tackling new skills or avoiding learning different ways of doing things. It also inhibits people making decisions from taking the time to really delve into particular aspects of education by allowing them to assume that "they already know this stuff". Connectiveness is something that we need to explore and examine. People are connected in so many different ways and our methods of achieving those connections are changing. One are that we really need to explore, I believe, is how these connections are affecting the f2f connections that each one of us has in our lives. If teachers, who were traditionally isolated in their rooms become more connected via the tools available but are still isolated in their rooms, don't share what they are learning with these new connections, our schools will continue to be places where people are still isolated from others despite all the outward connections they have made.

Connie, you're correct that we need to manage time in a much different manner now. Our lives are becoming much more complicated with more people trying to juggle their f2f connections with those they are making through their online networks. Many adults are just beginning to experience this pressure while some of our youth have been making that transition for awhile. Wonder what we could learn from them?

This is such a great discussion, I thought I'd bring it up again. In my mind, I've referred back to this point you made many times this year.

I'm glad I watched HS Musical! Also know it's important that I watched Napolean Dynamite when it came out (and many times since). What about Little Miss Sunshine--has that been mentioned? I like to alternate modern movies with old-timey musicals when we watch movies at lunch at school. Of course, I have to watch ratings in that case (with the contemporary movies--I have 10 year-olds in class), but nothing stops me from referring to things the kids know from outside of school; we discuss them, even if I don't show them.

Still using Facebook for alumni association and keeping in touch with college students, old students who are now moved on in life--and who probably have the best perspective of all to give on how education went for them, and changes they'd like to see. But I find it hard to keep up! (Need to get into more of a routine there.)

This discussion seems to go with other recent forums on CR2.0, about use of Wikipedia (what the kids ARE using), and other knowledge-sharing connective-tools of the time, like Twitter.

Your point is well-taken:
Keep in touch with kids' culture.
The media AND the tools.
Thanks, Sylvia!
I totally agree. We need to look at what we do regularly and be life long learners ourselves. When we do we find that there is always another way to explore. I did this last year with my students who were at risk and failing my course. The result is my website and the the creation of "masterycast" podcasts as a learning tool. Students are constantly "plugged in" to their music, iPods, etc. Why not use that to study? Well they are now, big time! They are listening to me when they walk into the building in the am to get ready for a test! I watched. I listened. My class is now a place of hope for kids who thought their only option was to give up. Listen to the launch episode of MasteryCast for more on my site.

Totally right! It works!

Sue P aka The Maze.



Win at School

Commercial Policy

If you are representing a commercial entity, please see the specific guidelines on your participation.





© 2023   Created by Steve Hargadon.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service