From the previous post you can tell that I did some “blogvangelism” today at a county in-service just north of where I live, and it was five hours of pretty intensive discussion and teaching about blogs the noun and blogging the verb. In fact, it was the first chance I’ve gotten to spend some time with teachers really teaching them how to blog. (The session name was “Writing With Passion Through Blogging”…) And I think that most of them got it, that this wasn’t navel gazing, that it was reading and thinking and writing. (And I think I had a moment of self-enlightenment when I heard myself saying “when I’m not blogging regularly (like now) it’s not because I don’t have time to write as much as it’s that I don’t have time to read.”) We created bunches of blogs at Blogger, deconstructed blog posts by Clarence Fisher and Barbara Ganley, and talked about the ways in which we could use them in our practice and with our students. And we got into the inevitable discussion about what all of this means in terms of research and trust and sources and the like. In fact, one teacher shared that she restricts students to databases when doing research…no Web…no Google. I could totally understand her angst.
But I’m wondering if most of them left today with genuine excitement or genuine dread. I really get the sense that teachers fall into one of two camps after my “sermons.” They’re either saying “look at the amazing things that my students and I can do these days…what an opportunity” or they’re saying “Oh. My. Goodness. How in heck am I going to figure this out for myself AND how am I going to teach my kids how to figure this out. This is work.” And it is more work. That whole teachers and students as editors idea alone means a lot more work for everyone trying to figure out what’s true, what’s accurate, what’s trustworthy. I mean there was only one person in the room who knew how to find out who owned the site martinlutherking.org. That’s the kind of work we’re talking about here, going beyond the “here’s the book, the book is true, we can all passively read now” method of teaching.
“What percentage of adults have the required skills to a) navigate this environment and b) be critical consumers of information? Can we expect our students to be proficient with these skills when adults aren’t?”
Not solely based on today by any means, my answers are a) 10, b) 5 and c) NO! And this just screams out the fact that our kids have no effective role models for content creation, content management or content editing. And sadly, most educators are not going to want to put in the time to make these literacies a part of their practice. To some extent, I understand why. It is work. And they need time and training that unfortunately they are not going to get nearly enough of. But on the other hand, if they’re not willing to do it on their own, they risk becoming irrelevant and, as David puts it, dropping of the edge.