Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rant/Sermon from Ian Jukes caps off Conference - ISTE 2010 Day 3

This is my final post of the ISTE series as my colleagues and I are headed for a flight before the keynote. That's too bad, as the closing keynote is the one the members voted for and the opening keynote wasn't beloved based on the Tweets. This last session has drawn my attention because Ian Jukes is one of the presenters and I have enjoyed him before. The other presenter is Frank Kelly, who is new to me.  The session focuses on the impact of classroom teaching on technology (and not the other way around). While we were waiting to start, we got to look at a series of funny pictures that sets us up for the irony they discussed, that the problem is the schools and not the technology.

They started by illustrating how much technology has changed virtually everything else, and basically only allowed us to tinker with the traditional models schooling. Ian got a good laugh when we pointed out we are still releasing children over the summer so we can have them harvest the crops like they did in Prussia. He said that education is the only area that people ignore current research outright, and feel sanctimonious while doing it. Frank and Ian then went through a large number of American studies and major publication and pointed out that we changed very little for American students.  They say we are fiddling while Rome is burning. They ended this section by pulling together the research that says teachers are teaching in a way that is different from how students learn. Students are fundamentally and neurologically different and continue to change, while schools remain the same.

Stylistically the presentation reminded me of a combination of a rant and sermon. There was slanted language, statistics, rhetorical devices and a Martin Luther King tone. Lots of the time, there were the good sound bites media outlets love to flirt with, like
If we as teachers continue to do the same things the same way when we know it doesn't work, it begs the question: Who has the learning problem?
This was a persuasive and rousing session designed to motivate the listener to create change. Good slides, lots of stats and slanted language were all used to help make the case. I enjoyed the session for that alone, but didn't need any persuasion. The most powerful point was that creative and critical thinking jobs will make up half the workforce soon.  If a computer can do it more quickly or an oversees person can do it easily, it is leaving or you'll earn minimum wage. Our schools were designed for an era when 75% of our jobs were in agriculture and manufacturing, but those people will be less than 25% of our workforce within the decade.

My favorite quotation: "We have a headware issue, not a hardware issue."

 Ian's three big picks for 21st century fluency (found on his Committed Sardine website):
  1. Living on the Future Edge
  2. Understanding the Digital Generation
  3. Literacy is not Enough
It was a good session to end the day on and I repressed an "Amen, brother" as I left to return to my work of classroom reform. But I can't help feeling that nothing short of a miracle will get us where we need to go and the technology just helps to package the rants so that the medium is the message.

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