Select Readings and Thoughts on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age
So this is being sent much later than usual. As the festive season approaches, time is becoming a bit more scarce. The snow in New England did not help either.
This is another eclectic mix of pieces. I deliberately kept them on the short side, given my penchant for the long read. There is no real theme to these three but I found all of them interesting. I suppose if you look really deep there is a political dimension in each of these articles but that would be a bit of a stretch and it was definitely not by design.
There is no “If you read only one article…” this week. They are each little gems on their own. The one that probably speaks to one of the main reasons I continue to curate this newsletter is probably the first one Letting Go Of School In Order To Think About Education, while the others probably reveal more of my idiosyncratic reading habits. Regardless, they seemed worth sharing. Sometimes the stranger additions get the most attention, anyway.
Enjoy the week and preparations for the holidays.
Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.
Letting Go Of School In Order To Think About Education – Medium – Identity, Education, and Power – Sherri Spelic (7-minute read)
I began following Sherri Spelic over the summer, I believe. Since then, I have found her to be an insightful and interesting educator. She has a wonderfully honest and inquisitive voice in her blogging that continually raises issues while documenting her journey as a teacher. In this post, she writes freely about some of her thoughts about the obstacles that exist in schooling that often are at odds with education. I think what I identified most within this post is how she discusses thoughts about her own children. It is a way I often begin thinking about school, now that mine are old enough to be fully immersed in the public school system.
The next best thing about her free thinking and writing is that professionally she starts with people. The more I have been at work specifically with teachers and technology the more I have become convinced that this is the only way to go. Yet, it is an increasingly hard road. Still, we humans are the greatest technology ever developed and we keep developing too. When Spelic writes, “We need to reclaim education as a human-centered public good that belongs to all of us,” I wish I had written that sentence.
Why I Seldom Teach The Hero’s Journey Anymore — And What I Teach Instead – The Huffington Post – Craig Chalquist, PhD (13-minute read)
This might be a little off the beaten path but I found this piece to be fascinating as a window into the thinking of another educator but also as a bit of cultural commentary. I am a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s work, ever since I was exposed to him in a high school humanities course, timed with the release of The Power of Myth on PBS. Nevertheless, I found Chalquist’s take on Campbell fair and fascinating. More than that, I found his alternative to the Hero’s Journey even more so.
While Campbell famously said, “We are all heroes of our own journey,” that has always seemed a little over-simplistic to me. I quite like Chatquin’s dive into what we might glean from the no-Hero’s Journey of Reenchantment. It strikes me as something that might be even more accessible to more people. While we all might hope to be heroes, it is a word that is too loosely thrown about, as cited in this piece. After all, we might all be better served by stories of “post-heroic patience, wisdom, and forgiveness” anyway.
This piece is a bit of fun. It is brief, like the medium it illuminates but is an interesting look at the development of an analog technology that had a far greater impact than we might have realized. I love historical writings like this that focus tightly on a specific item and explore its impact and evolution. It certainly made me think about how often I reach for an index card much in the way that its first user, Carl Linnaeus, did.
For anyone that remembers the old BBC show Connections with James Burke from the 1970s, this essay reminded me of a text version of that show. I loved that leisure suit wearing presenter. In addition to a reminder of the historical importance of Linnaeus for anyone that does not teach biology, it is also a poignant reminder of just how long information overload has been a problem facing humans. Better still, I love the inclusion of the dark side of classification. Like any gross misappropriation of a good idea from one context to another, bad consequences can arise. Best reminder of all, “The act of organizing information—even notes about plants—is never neutral or objective.” Definitely, something to keep in mind.