Before I move into my education-based themes for the day, I wanted to share with my readers a well-known set of lyrics that was introduced to me over the holidays. It was included in a recently published collage of poems, songs and lyrics titled Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies It's titled The Cockeyed Optimist from The South Pacific and written by the legendary playwriters Rogers & Hammerstein:
When the skies are brighter canary yellow
I forget ev'ry cloud I've ever seen,
So they called me a cockeyed optimist
Immature and incurably green.
I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we're done and we might as well be dead,
But I'm only a cockeyed optimist
And I can't get it into my head.
I hear the human race
Is fallin' on its face
And hasn't very far to go,
But ev'ry whippoorwill
Is sellin' me a bill,
And tellin' me it just ain't so.
I could say life is just a bowl of Jello
And appear more intelligent and smart,
But I'm stuck like a dope
With a thing called hope,
And I can't get it out of my heart!
Not this heart...
It resonated with me because despite the tumultous 2009 that many people, including myself, endured, I remain hopeful that our resilient country will once again find its indentity in a rapidly evolving global community. Education is one of those paths that may be long and winding, but eventually, we will reach a successful milestone.
Now, back to education......
Yesterday, my co-author, Reid Daitzman, forwarded me a NYT article that had numerous data points of interest to ALL of you, and I will be thoroughly reviewing it during the writing of my book. It was titled, "If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online" It links to an 85 page report just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and is titled: Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds. We need to spend more time talking about the pedgogy. How we transmit the content to students is as important, if not more important than what we communicate to them. Children ages 8-18 spend more than 7.5 hours a day with smart phones, computers, television, or other electronic devices. This does NOT include the 1.5 hours they spend texting, or the 0.5 hours they talk on their cellphones! Most importantly, they are multitasking and are thus packing many more hours of content into that 7.5 hours!
Now the authors like to raise concerns that parents have about excessive device usage amongst their children. While there may be some merit to this, it is important that parents monitor their children's usage, not to look over their shoulder, but to ensure they are using this time wisely. "Play" can take many forms, and physical play is absolutely expected in addition to other forms of play. But what if some of this time was converted into real "learning?" I would like to hypothesize that children are learning certain skills during much of their technology interaction; however, if we could more directly tie learning objectives into thsi media consumption and incorporate into school curriculums, imagine the impact it would have on both motivation and student achievment!
I encourage all of my readers to read this report, and for a provocative discussion to take place at every school board in the country. Think about what this report means. Inventions have always been exploited for good (and evil) purposes. That is called "free will." Lets start looking at real solutions that leverage this data for the benefit of our children, who expect to be qualified to enter the future work force and take positions that have not yet been created.
Who will answer the call?