Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Amorphous Case for Empathy - ISTE 2010 Day 2

I have see Alan November present before and he started today with talking about how Asia is really starting to focus on students connecting to each other. He says that the same type of urgency, cultural sensitivity and people skills in just not a similar focus in the US. Alan argues the most critical thing we need to do is globalize the curriculum and focus on empathy. He bases this interviews with everything from bank CEOs to cultural anthropologists.

Alan's presentation jumped around a lot and had some random stories that are part of his charm. It did not help that his mic jumped in and out. He did show some basic things for understanding world view like using the country code to get news from the specific place. Barry and I were is the session together and wondered how many of our history and social studies understand country code.

He used a number of examples to explain that we need to create assignments that encourage kids to be producers and be global thinkers. Alan says when we share, we need to share with other countries and different worldview automatically. So as a teacher, I would not have my students write about WWII using books - I would have them debate if the war was inevitable by debating with a German class and then consider writing (that's Alan's best advice on combating Internet plagiarism by the way). Alan says expanding the worldview is an opportunity that technology offers that we have never really had. I think we should be working on being able to understand different worldviews at the same time by starting with First Nations and Western worldviews. We should absolutely leverage as many worldviews for our students as we can, I just think we need to be able to do it locally first.

Alan ended with a case about why we need social networking. One of Alan's good illustrations is a podcast of an interview with Rahar Harfoush, the Canadian woman who was Barack Obama's media advisor. He notes that the tools she says are essential to help you become President are blocked in most schools.

I enjoyed the presentation very much but Alan's connection of wildly divergent issues makes it hard to blog. You'll have to trust me that Alan's case for empathy was a good one.

1 comment:

  1. I just had lunch with George Peng, an International Business professor at the U of R. As I'm leaving for China on Monday, he offered me a pretty nuanced account of Chinese culture. In his view, the "ying-yang" is central to the Chinese psyche, and implies expecting and maintaining complexities, tensions, ambiguities. When I mentioned debate, which I have coached in SK, he predicted that some Chinese people would not favor this process, as it tends to eschew ambiguities. One of the ways that I encourage students to empathize with different points of view is the case study approach, in which students identify the individuals or groups directly and indirectly affected by the issue / phenomenon / conflict, and complete a Logical Analysis for each one (Critical Thinking Foundation). This involves clarifying the following for each party: Question, Purpose, Information, Concepts, Assumptions, Conclusions, Implications, Point of View. Once students have done this (in chart form so that they can see the information all at once),I ask them to predict which parties are likely to come into conflict, and why (which Element of Thought provides the source of conflict / energy?), and which element of thought they would focus on to remove roadblocks to consensus.
    Sherry Van Hesteren