Global Dignity Day: making ‘dignity’ understandable for students
One of our goals as educators is to nurture students into becoming decent human beings who will make the world a better place—for themselves and for others.
This is why many teachers are engaging in global projects that are authentic and, therefore, meaningful to young people.
The Global Dignity Day initiative achieves this and it allows people to get involved with as much effort as you wish. You can do a little—or you can do a lot. This makes it very accessible to all of us and still results in deep understanding of what dignity means to people across a wide range of our global experiences.
You can see lots more detail about Global Dignity Day at the main site or at your specific country site. Canadian educators, please check Global Dignity Day Canada. It has been my privilege to serve on this committee for the past several years along with some wonderful Canadians who care deeply about our young people.
For a quick visual overview, watch this amazing video from Global Dignity Day Canada 2015. If you wish to know more, or have any questions, please check the sites or simply ask me. I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.
It would be wonderful to have you join us this year for Global Dignity Day 2016!
A Connected Educator Month 2015 Event starting on October 1st!
Join Brenda Sherry and me in a collective, month long, discussion to:
- extend and deepen our understanding of the term learning
- participate in a knowledge building approach to collaboration
- model deep practices for our professional learning environments (colleagues and/or classrooms)
Brief Description (see full site for details)
We will spend the month exploring, unpacking, and discussing what we mean by the term learning. This will include:
- building background knowledge through sharing and reading resources related to the topic
- introductory Twitter Chat
- co-creation of a slidedeck of our ideas
- reflective Twitter chat
- contemplative rewriting of our slides
- culminating creation of reflection statements
We will use a knowledge-building approach to this event.
“If Knowledge building had to be described in a single sentence, it would be: ‘giving students collective responsibility for idea improvement‘. In Knowledge Building, students work together as a community to build and improve explanations of problems of understanding that arise from the group itself.” (We will be the students in this project!)
So please join us! Go to What Do We Mean By Learning Anyway? for all the details to get started!
Peter Skillen & Brenda Sherry with the support of OSSEMOOC
This thoughtful e-book, Learning Out Loud, is a collection of thoughts written by Ontario teachers and produced by TVOntario.
Lest you think it is all text—it isn’t! In addition to links to many relevant blog posts, there are many video clips included—it is produced by TVO after all. :-)
There are four chapters:
- Shifting from Teaching to Learning
- Who Owns Learning?
- What Conditions Support Learning?
- How Do We Share Learning with Others?
You have to read it yourself!
I am proud to be an Ontario educator—and to have been part of this (r)evolution into digital age learning since the early 70s.
Another blast from the past!
Encouraging students to program (code)—even at young ages—is not new. It has also been alive all these years—certainly since the introduction of microcomputers into schools in the late 1970s. It just did not ‘take hold’, nor grab the media attention, nor grab the hearts of those who enthusiastically embrace it today. Or perhaps those latter folks are new to teaching and are excited about the possibilities. If so, I encourage you to ask yourself why you want kids to program.
Interestingly, however, many of the same issues are arising. “We need a coding curriculum at the elementary school level!” is one such example.
Please enjoy this article from the ECOO Output, September 1986.
If you’ve been around since this time, enjoy reminiscing!
Childhood in the Technological Era
Another blast from the past. This time from 1987.
Many of the world’s best known educators were together at the Second International Congress on Early Childhood Education held in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1987. The major theme of the congress was caution versus enthusiasm in using computer technology with children.
- Neil Postman
- Gavriel Salomon
- Seymour Papert
- Hubert Dreyfuss
- Bruno Bettleheim
- et moi! ;-)
How fortunate I was to be presenting with such distinguished and influential thinkers and educators. In addition, Apple Canada asked me to write about the experience in their Minds in Motion journal.
Apologies to those with screen readers. I do not have this converted to text—only images. However, I’ll highlight some of the points here for ease of reference. I ask you, ‘What resonates with you? What’s changed? What hasn’t changed?’
I will outline the points made by Neil Postman. Read the whole article below and the thoughts of the other speakers.
- “All technological change is a Faustian bargain. For every advantage technology brings, there is always a disadvantage…and one may outweigh the other…New media create new centres of power and influence…the computer will provide our students new ways of thinking. Who will benefit—the children The schools? The state?”
The Technology of Marks is a Mathematical Concept of Reality
- Embedded in every technology is a powerful idea. Some of these ideas are hidden from view. As an example, he cited the seemingly harmless practice of assigning grades to children’s work. Assigning marks is a tool or technology to judge a person’s behaviour. It is a mathematical concept of reality.
- “The philosophy embedded in a new technology always makes war with the philosophy embedded in an old technology.” Since the invention of the printing press, the written word (and its accompanying concepts of logic, sequence, history, and objectivity) has been the basis of our educational system. The new technologies of television and computers rely on immediacy, visual transfer of information, and subjective interpretation. Media wars are in effect in our world now. This is, of course, evident in our world now. Students who are on the wrong side of this war are the ones who are failing.
A New Medium Does not Add Something—It Changes Everything
- “Technological change is not additive but is ecological.” Many people presume that when a new technology is introduced, it merely adds to the store of existing technologies. Postman suggests that this is not always the case. “A new medium does not add something—it changes everything.” He described Europe before the advent of the printing press and pointed out that Europe afterwards was not just Europe plus the printing press. It was, in fact, a new Europe. (Read Blue Dye plus Water? Or Blue Water? for another McLuhanist example of this concept. Also remember Seymour Papert’s words—“If the role of the computer is so slight that the rest can be kept constant, it will also be too slight for much to come of it.”
- “Media tend to become mythic.” It is a common tendency to think of our own creations as God-given, part of the natural order. Because of this, our society doesn’t question the larger social, psychological ramifications even though we should. (Read It’s Not About the Tools? Really? for another view.)
Electronic Workbooks. Really?
- “A technology is to a medium like the brain is to the mind. A technology is a tool to be used in various ways. One could, but would not, use a 747 to take commuters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. One could, but would not, use a television to present printed words on the screen. One could, but should not, use computers as an electronic workbook.”
Soooooo I ask you again, ‘What resonates with you? What’s changed? What hasn’t changed?’
(Click on the pictures below to see larger.)
This is a project I developed, and presented, in 1989.
It’s interesting that we are struggling with many of the same issues today—although perhaps using ‘modern’ terms.
Intentional learning has grown into knowledge building.
We still speak a great deal about metacognition.
Two of my favourites remain:
“Thinking must be a highly valued activity. Not just thinking hard, but thinking about thinking, in addition to the task.”
“Students must be engaged as coinvestigators into the processes of thinking.”
These would fall under the umbrella of the current visible thinking enthusiasm.
Fun to look back to the future.
It is very much about the tools:
and their impact—both intended and unintended.
Once again, as a result of the ISTE conference, the issue represented by statements such as, “It’s not about the tools, it’s about the pedagogy” has come to the fore. (See Stop It Already by @dougpete and Not Everyone is You by @gcouros.)
I have spoken about this before in “It’s Not About the Tool”—A Naïve Myth.” In that post I share some thoughts related to computers as cognitive partners, ‘effects of’ vs ‘effects with,’ drip effects of technology, blue dye plus water or blue water and other McLuhanist-type thoughts.
As I mentioned there, I understand the intent of these kinds of statements. I believe they arise from the focusing on the skills required to use the tool rather than on the learning at hand. So, yes, that would be an issue. I totally understand that problem. That’s why, in 2002, I presented a session at a CUE conference titled Mindstrokes—Not Keystrokes.
However, it is very much about the tools.
As described in that post, tools shape behaviours. Tools shape cognition. Tools shape societal structures in both intended, and unintended, ways.
Let’s face it, eras of humankind have historically been defined by tool creation and use (the Three Age System)! We have the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age. Then came the Industrial Age, and, now, the Digital Era. In fairness, these descriptors vary regionally and are constantly under revision as many cultures use reference to other types of technologies.
So to simplistically say that it isn’t about the tools, is in my opinion, digital age doodoo.
“If the role of the computer is so slight that the rest can be kept constant, it will also be too slight for much to come of it.”
Seymour Papert in Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking, 1987
So they programmed with Logo.
Kids learned the Total Turtle Trip theorem.
“If a turtle takes a trip around the boundary of any area and ends up in the state in which it started, then the sum of all turns will be 360 degrees.” Mindstorms, 1980
Here we are in 2015—student agency, inquiry, project-based learning, and coding are back on the radar. :-)
My next step is to integrate the ‘new’ with the ‘old’.
But, really, I’ve done a Total Turtle Trip.