Took a mini-vacation from posting about Web logs, and my mind has been drawn more and more to the new, changed state of the world and it’s implications for teaching. Been thinking a lot about what we don’t seem to teach our kids in any contextual way: living with less impact on the environment, understanding media messages, the impact of consumerism on the global society, the now-more-than-ever duty that falls to all of us as members of a participatory democracy. We don’t give all of our kids practical skills to deal with these issues which I think are among the most important we face right now. They get them piecemeal here and there, but we need a “Living in the 21st Century” class that’s mandatory for every student.
Found this quote: “This is a time in which it is profoundly tempting to withdraw into old certainties, to return to familiar landscapes of teaching and learning whose routines and well-worn grooves give us comfort and a sense of control and order. But the world itself holds a different lesson for us: a lesson about the importance of teaching the young to live well when the very shape of that world emerges every day in ways that are unlike anything we have ever known before.” (Emphasis added.) (From CITE.)
I think a lot about what this all must be like for my students. This week, here is what they’ve had to “consume”: The U.S. is nowhere near prepared for another terrorist attack, and the next one will likely dwarf 9/11; snipers who get 24/7 coverage while their victims names have already faded from our memories; hundreds of innocent people gassed to death by their own government; tales of war in Iraq; 16,000 people murdered in this country last year; suicide bombings and killings left and right…and the list goes on. I struggle to process all this, to maintain some sense of balance and usefulness in the face of all of this out-of-my-control stuff.
This is a changed world, and we need to change our definition of what it means to live well. With our students, I think we have to do a better job of giving them some context for their own definitions. And I think technology can facilitate that, maybe even Web logs, in bringing people together in shared spaces to understand more of what it means to be human, and American, and white, and male or female or whatever. Just thinking about it…