Some time ago we started taking our walls too seriously – not just the walls of our classrooms, but also the metaphorical walls that we have constructed around our “subjects,” “disciplines,” and “courses.”I'm sure you have all seen this video that received more than one million visits the first month it was posted.
...Not surprisingly, our students struggle to find meaning and significance inside these walls. They tune out of class, and log on to Facebook.
In spring 2007, Michael Wesh invited the 200 students enrolled in the “small” version of his “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” class to tell the world what they thought of their education by helping him write a script for this video that was posted on YouTube. The result was the disheartening portrayal of disengagement. With rare exception, educators around the world expressed the sad sense of profound identification with the scene, sparking a wide-ranging debate about the roles and responsibilities of teachers, students, and technology in the classroom.
With more than a year gone by since the posting of this video, you can image how many comments and blog posts, reactions, etc. were posted.
Michael Wesh shares his reflection and insight...
By the end of the summer I had become convinced that the video was over the top, that things were really not so bad, that the system is not as broken as I thought, and we should all just stop worrying and get on with our teaching.Read the complete post to learn his thoughts on "what went wrong" and the notion of how students move through our systems with the "getting by" game.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. We don’t have to tear the walls down. We just have to stop pretending that the walls separate us from the world, and begin working with students in the pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions.
When we do that we can stop denying the fact that we are enveloped in a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where the nature and dynamics of knowledge have shifted. We can acknowledge that most of our students have powerful devices on them that give them instant and constant access to this cloud (including almost any answer to almost any multiple choice question you can imagine). We can welcome laptops, cell phones, and iPods into our classrooms, not as distractions, but as powerful learning technologies. We can use them in ways that empower and engage students in real world problems and activities, leveraging the enormous potentials of the digital media environment that now surrounds us. In the process, we allow students to develop much-needed skills in navigating and harnessing this new media environment, including the wisdom to know when to turn it off. When students are engaged in projects that are meaningful and important to them, and that make them feel meaningful and important, they will enthusiastically turn off their cellphones and laptops to grapple with the most difficult texts and take on the most rigorous tasks.
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