An Educator's Manifesto! Arise! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

I’m giving up! I will no longer attempt to inspire the administrators of my school and district with the wonders of Web 2.0.

I will no longer try to interest fellow teachers in amazing new tech tools, if they haven’t already shown some curiosity.

I’ve discovered, after resisting this obvious truth for years, that my job is not to CONVINCE the people closest to me that these things work, but to FIND those, be they in New York, Rome or Timbuktu, who are ALREADY turned on to the modern age! And that’s what I’m going to do from now on! That’s my manifesto!

In my experience of over 35 years in teaching and administration, perhaps one in 50 teachers is curious about new technology (yes, there are over 3000 of us in this Ning group, but I’ll bet my claim is close to correct when you count teachers everywhere). Only one in 100 administrators cares about Web 2.0. And, despite Digital Age propaganda, only one in 6 or 7 students in K-12 is really open to LEARNING in Web 2.0 ways, despite being adept at gossiping on MySpace, watching drivel about Britney Spears on YouTube, and playing Halo 3 on the X-box.

Three times this summer I have sat on committees at conferences with administrators who were experienced, highly paid members of the educational establishment. They were from North America, Europe, and China. They had advanced as far as you can go in their field.
But when I would try to demonstrate new tools to them, things like Eduism, Voicethread, eBoard, Sketchcasting, and other things you read about all the time on this forum, they sat there deaf and dumb like statues. In a couple of cases they maintained a grudging appreciation of Moodle. I told them how I used sites like worldmindnetwork.net, to show kids live streaming video of artists and scientists around the world doing interesting things, or pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes, to involve students with social entrepreneurship in the developing world, or michalebach.de/ot/, a fascinating site full of optical illusions which invites kids to question their beliefs about perception, memory, and truth itself.

All they could say is things like “What particular unit does this fit into?” or “What requirement does this fulfill?” or “How will this improve test scores?”

I mean, like, DUH! [if I may borrow my students’ typical form of expression]
Don’t they see that these things are not about helping kids pass some test, but about INSPIRING kids, who are pre-disposed to hate school, to WANT to learn more? To get them interested in things that they would never in a million years even think of looking up on their own?

THAT is the real meaning of Web 2.0 to me. It’s not about technology itself. It’s about all the new ways of MOTIVATING students to get EXCITED about learning. It’s about getting kids on speaking terms with their intuition. It’s about awakening the fountains of creativity within.
I suppose I’m getting mystical here, but I’m really passionate about this.

Bob

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Hi Fred,
I'm thinking about this comment you wrote:
"No matter how the tools change, it is the forging new connections and ways to use the tools that is the real value. That kind of creativity never goes out of style. That kind of creativity adapts to whatever new tools appear. That kind of creativity is what I hope to foster in my students."

This might make a good post all by itself: how do we encourage the creative state of mind, the overall mindset of openness to learning new tools? I guess that's what this network is all about. But sometimes we forget that it's not just about gathering new or more information; it's about cultivating an approach to learning. Thanks for pointing this out!

It'd be great to share teaching methods that cultivate the creative mindset, the creative approach to web 2.0--beyond any specific applications. What are the ingredients in the recipe for this sort of learning?
Great discussion, I am in awe of the web now, I am enjoying the evolution of what is really a fairly new phenomena! Where it will go and what it will end up being is anyone's guess but I am so anxious to see it. I have been laughed at but I liken this to the prining press. Control of information is control of minds and thoughts. The internet and Web2.0 is such a threatening concept for so many. The loss of control over our "isms" is mind boggling as it must have been to the leaders of society at the time the printing press was developed. I may not be saying this right but I am excited also. I do agree that we need to move slowly, first because so much of this will disappear and so much of it well change substantially, but we do need to move. And we will.

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