Education Evolutions #49

IMG_4227 flickr photo by Jemimus shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Select Readings and Thoughts on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

A little later than expected but before the holiday, this hopefully finds its way to you. I feel like I am still catching up from the holiday layoff, in a way. So the weekly practice of curation finds me wishing I could work a little quicker.

I still feel like there is no shortage of interesting reading out there worth highlighting. Yet, I also cannot help but be reminded while reading of just how important it is to get my nose out from in front of a screen and spend time with loved ones on the weekend. It is a challenge that I confront as much or more as anyone reading this. In fact, this labor of love is an effort to help people in that regard, serving as a kind of stopgap against the spillover.

As usual, I don’t know if there is an “If you read only one article…” this week. the last piece, “I Used to Be Human” is three-quarters of an excellent article, although extraordinarily long. If you have the time and inclination, it is definitely a piece with ambition, even if I am not sure that it is altogether successful. It is successful on enough fronts to give a go.

Enjoy the week and Martin Luther King Jr Day.

Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

Getting Stuck on Self-Care: Why Community Care is Important for Educators – Teachers Going Gradeless –  Benjamin Doxtdator (6-minute read)

I like the thinking and writing of Benjamin Doxtdator a lot. I have never met him personally but I sense that we might get on quite well. I have featured his work in this newsletter on a number of occasions. This piece is as perceptive as it is provocative. There is no question that educators need to care for themselves. However, there is something even more powerful in the idea of a community exercising some care for itself too.

Schools can offer a ready-made community of care. In fact, I would humbly admit that I have recently given and received greatly from a community care based in a school. In his references to Noam Chomsky’s idea, “attacks on public education are really attacks on an ideal that we care for each other,” Doxtdator reminds us about the stakes. Despite demands on teachers being greater than ever, collectively there are greater possibilities to be potentially realized.

We Really Shouldn’t Let Silicon Valley into Our Schools – AlterNet – Sophie Linden (6-minute read)

This piece reads as a kind of executive summary on many of the challenges that are facing school’s brisk adoption rates of technology and the emerging consequences. There are a lot of links that reference a host of articles on the issues we are confronting. Linden rightly points out that there is conflicting research. For me, that fact only serves to strengthen why edtech should be regularly and rigorously interrogated.

Of course, the financial cost is one major factor, especially for public school systems that are inherently inequitably funded. There are also is the human cost, which we are only just beginning to really understand. Whether it is lost opportunities, attention, or even jobs, the field of education should be a place where ideas are constantly cross-examined. Unfortunately, it can all too often be a place where convenience replaces questioning. This article’s call for patience seems not only reasonable but increasingly required.

I Used to Be Human – New York Magazine – Andrew Sullivan (41-minute read)

As you may have already noticed, this piece is long. It might be the longest read I have ever selected for this newsletter. That being said, I suspect some of you will read it with a knowing resonance. Sullivan chronicles, in significant detail, his fall into the digital chasm of obsessive consumption of information and the virtual world. It is at times harrowing. I do think the piece runs a bit long and drifts from where it is most powerful. Yet, the first two-thirds to three quarters offer a pretty powerful testimony of the costs of “living-in-the-web.”

Even if you don’t finish this piece, it touches on some items that are more than worth considering. There is a kind of desperation being articulated here that should serve as a cautionary tale. As educators in schools, there is a growing sense of inevitability about technology that should be a cause for a serious pause. While it may seem alarmist, reading through Sullivan’s experience, albeit online (irony acknowledged) may serve as just that kind of pause, especially if you push through to the end.


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