One of the suggested readings for this week’s class was Bud Hunt’s Blog ”Would you please block?”. It it Bud responds to requests by teachers to block internet sites that are distracting students from classwork. He responds to these requests will a well written stock response outlining that all sites required to be blocked by law are, but that they would not be blocking sites as a classroom management tool – “Students off task is not a technology problem – it’s a behavior problem”. I love this response because it reminds us that as much as we try to protect our students and children from EVERYTHING that may harm them, the real world exists they need to be prepared to deal with it. If our children and students do not learn how to take personal responsibility for their actions, how to separate accurate information from fiction, and how to think for themselves, we may be raising a generation of whining babies who expect all the difficult thinking and choices to be done for them and create followers, not the leaders we need.
P J Giles responded to this post and wrote that filtering “.. is a life skill teachers and students need to learn, evaluate, and reflect on as choices are made about what is considered “good” information” . I agree with this. If we block all content that might contain some information that might be objectionable, how do students and teachers learn how to filter the information on the web, published in books or broadcast on TV? How do students learn what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t? Maybe we need to reconsider our criteria in blocking websites, especially if they are being blocked for classroom management issues…
In a response to a previous blog, tchcruiser wrote “…we are doing our students a huge diservice if we don’t take the time to show them, model and give opportunity for correction in how to proerly use tools to make and grow relationships, both professional and personal, and how to learn using tools and materials found in places other than the protected walls of the school. By doing so, we are inheritanly teaching them to be critical, to be selective and to be cautious in their research, application and response to what they are finding out there. There is simply no way to dam the flow, or at least not for long… and it is not teaching them the right message anyway. What is most important is not only to find the information, but to assess it for validity, find more to back it up or refute it, and then make an informed judgement and respond to what they find and act upon it in a moral and reponsible way.” A great argument!
If we want students to be able sift accurate information out the sea of inaccuracies out there, how can we not dare to bring personal responsibility back into our classrooms?
The other question raised for class was “What are the new media literacies and how should teachers / schools address them?”. I watched the video The New Media Literacies, was hard pressed to write down all of the suggested literacies they gave that they consider skills needed for the classroom, work, creative expression, and citizenship. The first skill – judgement – fits well with the concept of appropriate filtering on Bud Hunt’s blog. The others include:
- negotiation (to enter different online communities)
- appropriation (for legal mix and remixing)
- play (as a form of problem solving)
- transmedia navigation
- collective intelligence
- distributed cognition
Most of these are supposedly covered under critical and creative thinking that is a large part of the Saskatchewan curriculum, but are we practicing these skills in a way that applies to the way the information world is being reshaped by the web? Maybe, just maybe, one way to address this issue is to make courses like this one mandatory (instead of being an elective) for all students in education degree programs so that those entering the profession have some of the necessary skills. As well, current teachers in the system already need to have access to inservices to open their eyes to what is going on outside of the classroom (if they don’t know already) and what they could bring into classroom to enrich students experiences. Finally, the Provincial government and school divisions have to get on board and provide the funding to get all schools up to date with appropriate technologies and policies so that no students are left behind. I know, a lot to ask, wouldn’t it be nice…?