Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

So I just finished reading the book Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age by Marilee Sprenger (download electronically for free here). I participated in a little online group. We posted responses to different sections of the book. At the end we responded to where education is going. From my post below, you can tell I'm not feeling real hopeful.

I have great concerns for the future of education and our society as a whole. One only needs to look at a few news articles about a more technologically advanced nation, such as South Korea, to see some of the pitfalls of technology in society and the consequences of social isolation--such as an epidemic of online addiction and children starving to death while their parents gamed (New York Times article, May 2010). If public education is the foundation of democratic society, then we have a heavy burden and responsibility to recognize and deal with current issues, as well as anticipate future concerns. In the time I have taught I feel like the world of education has taken many steps back in the name of progress. Quite frankly I find it sad and depressing. It doesn't really matter what or how we teach if all the joy is squeezed right out for students and teachers.

I would love the number one priority of education to be fostering a lifelong love of learning. Why isn't it? I would like to see a close second be kindness and cooperation with other human beings. Why isn't it? I feel like these 2 are not valued by schools, parents, or students. I feel far from the mainstream of educators, when I express these personal ideals. Oh, I know we can't measure them on a test or assign them a grade, but so what?

I think if we continue on the course we are on, more learning will be online, and less learning will occur in a setting of human connection. I don't know how long our society will last, but at some point the pendulum will have to swing in order to survive.

I feel like the role of technology is all secondary to this. It's going to be here, but we could determine how much and how fast. I think we as a society should be defining technology, instead of it defining us.

So when all this gets me down I think about one of my education heroes, Deborah Meier. I think of what my heart has learned and my mind believed possible by reading her book The Power of Their Ideas. I think of her unflagging beliefs in the power of democracy in education.

And then when I know my ideals are still good, I turn to another hero, Parker J. Palmer, who allows me to believe that my passion comes from a deep place in my spirit. And I believe I should care for myself and my hope. Even if the tail is doing the wagging, it might not stay that way.

Where do you turn when you are down hearted about your professional passion?

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