Thursday, March 15, 2007

Setting us on Fire

On Tuesday, Scott McLeod fired off some fighting words in his post entitled "Overblown Alarmism and Empty Rhetoric," and rightfully so. Here are some of the choicest words, those that most unsettled me:

What’s your plan? We mean a real plan. Not just “kids learning independently on matters of personal interest, taking advantage of the power of digital technology to help them do so.” What will the structures look like? Policies? Laws? Funding streams? How will we know if kids have learned anything important? How will we handle parents’ very real needs for someone to take their kids while they go to work?

Quit offering us wishes. Quit offering us dreams. Quit preaching to us about what is morally right and educationally appropriate. Help us realize, in terms we can understand, what this new thing might actually look like AT SCALE and how we might reasonably get here. Even if we agree with you that this is important, without a vision AND a plan we’re just as stuck as you are.

It reminded me of being a sophomore in college, coming home and arguing about the state of the world with relatives, them being ultra-conservative, and me naturally being young and liberal. When pressed, I never could give them concrete evidence or a tangible plan of action on issues like universal health care or whatever it was at the time. This is the same call here; what cards are we holding?

Most of us on the tech side are coming at this from a philosophical perspective, where we can see the value in these applications; however, more and more of the teachers I meet and listen to really want to know the nuts and bolts--how is school going to look and where is my place in it going to be? We talked about BHAG's for quite a while not too long ago. Would this not be the best of all? Let's make it actually have shape, and form, this idea of School 2.0. What are the standards that will be assessed? What will assessment mean in this new form? Are our physical structures going to look the same? Is the nature of instruction going to be so radically different that we have to tear down everything that has come before?

My take on Scott's piece is one of optimism. Let's answer real questions with real solutions that make sense to a broad spectrum of stakeholders. The community that supports a school may not have the time or the wherewithal to care about our methodology and the minutiae of what we talk about here in the edublogosphere, but they do care about the product and they do care about how it is created, because more often than not, they are the ones paying for it.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Patrick, thanks for the wonderful extension of my contrarian post. I also thanked you here:

but just thought I'd also leave you a comment. I think you do a nice job of making my post even MORE concrete than I did.