Edgy Communications



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Dialogue. It's the one thing some folks really would rather NOT have. That's why I like Crucial Conversations book so much.

When Jillian Jones wrote the article A New Age in Education, a Napa Valley school district bringing cutting-edge teaching tools into the classroom, did she imagine the reaction?

Jillian shared:
“How is it that in the United States, where we invented the technology that enables the global workforce in the last 30 years, we are still teaching our children based on teaching techniques developed in the industrial era?” asked Barry Schuler of Napa, former chairman and CEO of America Online. “It is a national embarrassment,” he said. Technology is “basic literacy in the 21st century.” That new vision of basic literacy will soon become a core component in Napa schools.
I can't disagree with the points Schuler makes above. Technology IS a basic literacy, it SHOULD be a core component of ALL American schools. But the reality is that schools lack the funding to maintain a 1:1 technology initiative in schools, and if they have it, they choose to spend the money on other projects.

Schools SHOULD focus on encouraging students to pursue their passion, but it's not convenient to do so. It's easier to run kids through the factory model of education...it just makes better crowd control.

Jones goes on to report that:
Particularly in a district where schools like Napa High are already plagued by tech problems, fundraising efforts will be paramount in the expansion of the program.
In reviewing technology programs, it's so easy to point to them and say, "Look at those kids using technology! Ain't it great?" and that is the sum of all the "research" that is done. In truth, when you're preparing kids for a future that is unwritten, where the triumph of a third world country is assured because they're using technology America's kids don't have access to, it's easy to heighten the fear.
As I reflect on what technology Americans have access to--including internet--I'm astonished that we haven't done more with what we had. While I truly believe that technology CAN transform teaching, learning and leadership, I think that the conversations that need to be happening just aren't.

Imagine the chagrin of that school district in Napa, capitalizing on the positive press of "New Tech High Schools", only to see in the comments below what might be another, less glamorous perspective:
Seriously, people. The school district has routinely failed to manage their technology...they are genuinely incapable. That's why they use illegal copies of software and can't ever seem to fix equipment or network issues. Other countries do better than us with only basic technology. I can understand some lab supplies for science classes. Math classes, you only need paper, pencil, and a garbage can. The liberal studies classes don't even need the garbage can. "
or
Just do not let the current techology department run this or it will end up just like the current state of NVUSDs technology program. The teachers know the truth. Just ask one. It is very telling when you hire a painter to repair PCs. Overhaul of the technology department should and must be the first priority. Just pull back the curtain and take a look.
When on the one hand an organization reports the positive, but fails to give equal time to the negative, you have to expect the push-back will come. That's the value in blogs...being able to share half-baked ideas and see what sticks, if anything.

Consider John T. Spencer's authentic voice in this blog entry, What I Didn't Tell You at ISTE12...yes, that's what we are striving for as people in organizations:
Conferences are places where people sell things. Whether it's a vendor downstairs or a workshop presentation upstairs, there is an ethos of persuasion. Some people stay grounded better than I did. However, back here in Phoenix, I am already realizing that I spun stories. I omitted details. I exaggerated how amazing things were. I can call it anything, but the truth is that I lied. I feel horrible about it.
I did this for two reasons: first, I wanted to be well-liked. I wanted to matter. There's a dark, human desire to feel important. And if I'm feeling insecure (after I did when my ISTE proposal was rejected) it's easier for me to slip into the spin-zone mindset. My second reason is that I want to push certain ideas that are deep convictions of mine. It's more efficient to slip into propaganda than to model the very authenticity I claim to value.
I love what John writes next:
When I look back at the conference, it was the moments of vulnerability that I value the most. Although I regret making the Maryvale Voice project sound important, I value the part of that conversation when I was honest about getting scared after having high test scores and then running away toward coaching. Although I regret acting like I keep up on all the blogs people write, I cherish the conversation about what it is like to blog and to open up before a community of educators.
My big take-home this year has little to do with apps or flipping or devices. Instead, my take-home has to do with me. I'm realizing again the need to be vulnerable, to be honest and to be humble.
Yes, it's about being transparent. So what if yesterday's entry contradicts today's...when the world is changing at light-speed, only your commitment to sharing what you're learning endures. Edgy communications = vulnerable, authentic, transparent, human.

Let me repeat that last part again: Human.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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