Let me get this straight. I spent three days learning about wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, and various websites that I found totally intriguing and NEW. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been blown away by a new idea. Now I’ll admit, I usually don’t have time for those who will tell me why something won’t work. And there are plenty of people happy to see every change and new idea from that perspective. I’ve learned to at least listen to them, because they often help me to avoid some problems. But I’m not listening now. That’s right, I’m looking this whole fear issue, call it cautiousness if you like, and staring it down. Because that’s what it is when schools filter everything and avoid, it’s fear of the unknown, it’s ignorance, and it’s cowardice.
This technology was all new to me less than a week ago. Granted, it takes more to trouble me than some, but I’m a parent and a principal and I can’t think of a better way for our students to learn about the new opportunities on the web than from us. I’m honestly wondering why we’re not teaching kids in our computer apps classes exactly what I just learned from Will. Look, I’ve got a 14 year old son and a 19 year old daughter and I’m pretty sure they’re going to find out about the big bad blogging world one way or the other. I’d just rather it be openly and honestly from me with thoughtful discussion about what to do when confronted with what (if I’ve done a decent job at all) they’ll know they shouldn’t be looking at in the first place.
I hope we raise smart, curious kids who want to know what’s available, and who read and compose thoughtful blogs, sharing meaningful ideas with peers. I also hope this helps every high school student who feels like no one understands him (!) connect with someone out there who does, who shares her passion for horses or guitar or whatever, and can engage him in a thoughtful discussion. How many times does a student have a passion, an interest, a hobby that he learns to abandon in high school because his peers deem it uncool? Blogging provides a place to meet others with the same interests.
Will Richardson said –“The biggest shift is not the technology, not the practice, not even the implementation. It’s the cultural, social shift that moves us from the idea that we must prevent our kids from seeing and engaging with this “stuff” to the idea that says, look…it’s a different world…they’re going to find sex and porn and bad stuff and bad people no matter how hard we try to keep them from it, but when we weigh that fact against the incredible learning potential that the Web provides, we’re going to choose to educate rather try to block and filter it all.”
If schools say no way to all of this, if we block it, who are we kidding? It’s still there, kids are still curious (thank goodness) and we’re left out of the equation. Bring it on blogging world. If I have anything to say about it, G-Town will be open to it, will talk about it, will teach it. And our students will be better prepared for the workforce and better able to compete against all of the students coming out of the dark districts that forbid it. Education has everything to do with it. Keep teaching the teachers Will, it’s the only way we’re going to get there. Thank you for teaching me.