Monday, July 11, 2011

"up nort'" Homework on Vacation

As I drive out of the park, away from my campsite and into town, my phone beeps to show that it is now receiving messages;  all the messages since I drove out of range yesterday. I am avoiding the temptation that represents.   It's 85 degrees, unusual for the area but a beautiful summer day.  We went swimming at 7:30 last night (the water was refreshing -- I have not looked up the water temp, like wind chill, some things you don't actually want to know.) 

However, this morning I am at the Fish Creek Public Library, using their lovely, portable desks so I can be near the electricity.  My traveling companion works in a public library in another state, so part of our breakfast conversation was about post-apocalyptic fiction and what the future of ebooks might be in a world without electricity.  Even on vacation, I'm thinking about my work and my homework.

I took a close look at the introduction to Curriculum 21 (edited by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, ACSD, 2009) this morning and was struck by a few ideas: 

"There is rising concern about 21st century skills and tools for our learners, although it is noteworthy that as of the writing of this book, almost 10 percent of the 21st century has already passed."  (p.2)  I have thought for quite some time that we should stop talking about 'technology integration' and '21st century skills' as something which we are going to do in the future and move ahead to an assumption, for example, that all schools will have available, accessible technology.  [Though, when I mentioned my concerns about school reform this morning, my traveling companion did say "you mean, you expect someone to pay for that?"  Though we agree on the need for education and the concept of "the public good" that is by no means a given in our current political climate]. 

We may not be able to change the funding structure or the political climate immediately, but we can, and should,  change the things in our control -- such as school policies which allow students access on their personal devices, including phones, and the policies which limit access to free productivity tools.  We need to reorient our thinking about the dangers of computer access to the same kind of manageable 'attractive nuicence' we deal with every day on the playing field, in the gym, and even in our classrooms, where scissors and chemicals and electricity all are available -- for use or misuse.

Let us all take as our watch words:  "Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child."

Language lesson for the day.  "in Latin, curriculum means "a path to run in small steps."  We negotiate and choose that path, but ultimately it is the students who determine how they will, or if they can, take steps on the path. . ." (p.2).  I  suppose I should have known what the word origin was, but I didn't, and I think it creates a really interesting context for thinking about curriculum design. 

I usually skip introductions, but I'm glad I read this one.  I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book -- from my beach chair.  I especially want to see what the author has to say about "four program structures that need to be seriously altered and altered in sync with one another:  schedules, the grouping patterns of learners, the configurations of professional personnel, and the use of space (both physical and virtual).  (p. 5)
I hope that she has some constructive suggestions as to how we can move the schedule away from being driven by the bus companies and the sports schedules to being something that works best for most students -- and teachers. 

Fish Creek Public Library -- portable lap desk.  [The librarian told me she bought them at Walgreens, on special, two years ago.  She's looking for more if you run across them. . .]

Umbilical cord of the 21st Century 

Excellent use of a very small space.

Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa