So what am I learning at Learning 2.0? This is a bit of a very tired brain dump, but, I’m learning that…
…the teachers everywhere struggle with many of the same challenges and pressures that teachers in the States struggle with, by and large. The one big thing they don’t struggle with is NCLB.
…that teaching at an international school can be an amazing and rewarding experience. I’ve been struck by how many of the people I’ve met here have parents who taught abroad, and how many of them can’t imagine teaching in the US again (though many of them did.) That’s not to say that they are all expats, but it is interesting to hear them talk about how “hard” it is to come back to the States, for any number of reasons.
…that for the first time, if I had it to do over again, I would seriously consider taking my kids abroad for a year or two to give them a more global perspective. That’s not to say that they still don’t have the chance to immerse themselves in another culture before they get out to their real lives (and I think now I’m going to give them a lot of encouragement to do that), but as I flipped the pages of the yearbook in the office at the Concordia International School where the conference is being held, I saw a bunch of kids from all over the place who were getting a pretty amazing experience. For some reason, I’m really loving the sense of adventure that seemed to jump off of those pages.
…that Susan Sedro, Clay Burrell, Kim Cofino and others are just as compelling and interesting as their blogs suggest, and that they are doing some really fantastic things in their classrooms with these technologies. It’s been great to get a chance to talk with them and hear their contributions in my sessions.
…that things are cheap, really, really cheap here. And on some level that conflicts me. I am really looking forward to this afternoon and the next two days when the conference has ended and Jeff (pictured here) takes us around to where the “real” China is. (Where we are right now is kind of an upscale expat village where mostly corporations house their workers.) But I’m also somewhat put off by the zeal for buying knock off Rolex watches and designer clothes. China is a huge contributor to the environmental problems of the world, (the air here is just not right) not to mention all sorts of human rights violations and poor working conditions that I have not doubt surround the production of all that junk. And while I’m no saint, consumerism in general will be the death of us all. I keep wondering, how are we going to help our kids navigate the looming environmental crisis if we ourselves can’t do it. So, downtown Shanghai will either blow my mind or make me more depressed. Maybe both.
–that Gary Stager is a really good guy, which I already knew, btw. We may not agree on everything, but more than most, Gary wants kids to learn in engaging and meaningful ways.
We wrap up at noon today…that’s midnight EST, as my body is still well aware. Photos, I have a feeling, are going to be scarce as Flickr is blocked here and while the Firefox plugin seems to be working, the upload isn’t working. I’m going to have to get my brain around how to do it.
Technorati Tags: learn2cn, china, shanghai, learning, education
Thanks for the link to the NYTimes article. My class has been investigating the human impact on the environment in China and this series provides a wealth of information to share with the students! Safe travels
Amy Reynolds says
Welcome to China! I was fortunate to travel to China in April with a group of US educators. It was quite an experience. We were able to visit a rural school in the city of Xian and an international high school, for high achieving Chinese students, in Nanjing. All the classes we visited were being taught using rote lessons and we saw little evidence of technology, with the exception of an LCD project for the teacher in the high school. Will, as you know Teri and I included global collaborations in all our grade projects that we have implemented in NYC. It was our hope that we could develop new collaborations on our trip with the schools we visited. Their lack of technology was a definite obstacle in that plan and something we were didnâ€™t expect. I would be interested in hearing about the schools in Shanghai. Would the schools you visited be interested in collaborating with our Manhattan or NYC students?
Teri and I were both astounded by the air pollution and dust that filled our lungs during our ten day visit to 5 cities. I guess that is the price for cheap goods at our â€œsuperâ€ department stores. When we returned to NY we wrote a new curriculum project, which was funded with an MST grant, that focuses on pollution and the responsibilities of society in balancing environmental and economic concerns. Of course we are looking for collaboration partner schools in China!
a good festival…but islam is the best
John Larkin says
Hi Will (and Wes)
I have been reading your posts, as well as Wesley Fryer’s, with great interest. I wish I was there at the conference. I have taught in Asia myself and even though I have been back in Australia I still miss the overseas experience. The students and teachers in Singapore and the surrounding countries had a thirst for knowledge. The libraries in Singapore reflected this thirst. It was standing room only.
Have any of the participants raised the issue of the perceived versus the actual skill set of the “Digital Natives” that we teach? Sue Waters posted some telling thoughts on her excellent blog….
I wonder are they Digital Natives or simply Digital Dilettantes?
St Joseph’s Catholic High School
Carolyn Foote says
We recently had dinner with a colleague of my brother in law’s, a young man from Shanghai.
He talked to us a great deal about why he had a zest for learning. He was from a small village in China, and said that the only way you are allowed to move to the city, is with permission, and one way to get that permission is through being accepted into the colleges in the large cities.
So he was extremely motivated to study and get selected. He was one of only 3 selected from his area, but that enabled his entire family to move there.
He also commented that many can’t adapt to life in the city and end up leaving because it is so fast paced and Westernized compared to the villages, but that there is a huge disparity between the two areas.
Another interesting thing he mentioned–due to culture, he was required by the family when he recently married to have proof of income so he had to purchase an apartment. But due to the location he could afford, neither he nor his wife live there. They live in different places and commute to work, seeing each other only on weekends, and neither of them using the apartment.
One thing I was struck by though, was his hospitality and politeness, and how excellent his English was even on his first trip to the states.
Hope your tour is fascinating. The pollution and poverty are troubling factors.
Clay Burell says
Real quick, Will – it was great meeting you and participating in the learning together. More soon – off to school. Zoom.
Kim Cofino says
Thanks for the mention Will! It was fantastic to meet you, Sheryl and Wes this weekend!
It’s definitely not too late to take your family abroad now. After living in three different countries over the last seven years, and seeing so many teachers raise their families abroad, I think it’s an amazing gift to give your children – no matter when you start.
All of the students I’ve taught think of themselves as global citizens. The perspective they already have in elementary school is mind-boggling, just imagine what they’re going to be able to do by the time they’re all grown up…
I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have a problem finding a job either 😉
Fascinating descriptions of your experiences at the conference in China. I was particularly interested in your thoughts about traveling with your children “I would seriously consider taking my kids abroad for a year or two to give them a more global perspective.” I have a few friends who studied at international schools growing up, and they swear by the experiences they gained there. Would you ever consider enrolling your children in an international school?
Please forgive the plug, but a lot of what you talk about in terms of providing your kids with global perspective relates directly to a National Geographic-led campaign I just joined called My Wonderful World. A response to numerous studies, media events, etc. indicating that U.S. students know much less about the world than they should, the campaign endeavors to increase geographic & global education offerings across the U.S.
I was additionally struck by your comparisons between teaching abroad vs. teaching in the U.S. in the face of challenges from NCLB. As part of its overall mission, one of the projects My Wonderful World is undertaking this fall is a Donors Choose Challenge. They’re encouraging those who support global education to consider donating to U.S. teachers who are looking to incorporate global learning into their classrooms, but lack the resources. This seems like something that might be of interest to your readers.
Thanks for continuing to engage others in discussions about education issues and global learning. You do a fantastic service to us all!
Speaking of international education, Will and others may want to check this out:
I stumbled upon this awesome organization called “Glimpse.” They connect young people (primarily college students) who have lived or traveled abroad on a website, .
Additionally, Glimpse publishes a quarterly magazine, each related to a specific theme, in which students share stories, pictures, tips, etc. from their experiences.
What a cool concept combining discussion of important topics, artistic expression, and humor to foster cross-cultural learning and exchange. Something from which all our young friends could benefit, I think! Maybe I’ll revisit my travels to Australia and see if I can come up with a story to submit–I’m sure Will could drum up a few!