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Monday, 21 May 2007

Digi-kids and a new way of learning. Traditionalist vs Reality!

Well I am not thrilled to learn that our John Howard, the leader of Australia, is an education traditionalist, nor that such thinking envelops educational policy today - and we were wondering why it is so hard to change the mindsets of those we work with or consult for. It appears traditionalist educational policy is alive and well in Australia, thus supporting all those who choose to dismiss our advice, guidance, direction, into a new world for their learners and themselves. I am heartened by the words of the author, he has vision and above all applies basic common sense to his argument that literacy and learning have changed and are changing, thus we need to embrace the worlds of our learners and learn how to maximise the learning potential/power, contained therein. With advocates such as this, maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel for learners globally. The complete article can be found at the link below. I have included below a few of my favourite quotes from the article and a few personal comments, from my head alone at this time.
'John Howard's claim to be an "avowed education traditionalist" .........locked into the traditional print-based framework of the 1950s where knowledge was recorded in textbooks, lessons were subject-based, and success meant memorising all the right answers. "I believe English lessons should teach grammar. I believe history is history … and geography is geography, not place and space," he said.
YIKES ......view of education is no longer viable - familiar and reassuring as it may be for many of those who now determine policy. It would take only a few visits to cyberspace - to the real world inhabited by today's schoolchildren - to understand that there has been an information revolution since the 1950s. And it has changed everything: the children, education - and learning and literacy' 'adventurous, independent learners of the digital age are a very different breed from the children who 60 years ago.................' 'The new technologies have transferred literacy from the page to the screen. They have brought with them dramatic changes in the way we think and communicate, in how we learn, and in how we make and sell ideas in the information economy. And in education, it is the internet generation that is driving this information change'. 'Education professionals recognise that the students generally know more than their teachers about "doing" digital. ................' 'teachers cannot be the classroom authority figures when their digital literacy is not on a par with their students, and when their information resources do not compare with those of the internet. 'protest would include everyone from the five-year-olds who arrive at school digitally literate, through to adolescents who live life to the full on MySpace, YouTube and the Australian Stock Exchange share simulation game.'

I played the ASESG with my students in 1985 - ouch!!

is interesting that the Australian Stock Exchange Game is mentioned. In 1985 as a 2ND year out secondary school teacher, I to the horror of the rest of the staff at Melton High School, entered a group from my Economics class into this game. I had a huge learning experience, I had never used such software and had not used computers apart from word processing (black screen with green text, I believe).

I had not thought about it until I was clearing out at home and came across the newspaper clipping. Wow, what a time that was. Others, thought I was nuts, so did I as I had no idea what I had let myself in for. Teacher and students teamed together, determined to do well and help each other learn as we ventured into uncharted simulation world. Together and believe me, their open minds allowed them to help me more than I believe I was able to offer them, yet they did so willingly and we had FUN.

A connection for life made for us all (we still keep in touch), moments never forgotten and above all, these kids, kids who were often told they would come to nothing, worked their tails off, were fierce and determined, opened their mind to new ways of learning and came Third in the country that year, beating a large majority of private schools.

Words of staff eaten or choked on, Principal bathed in the glory, the presentation, the media, the press about how good the school was and how innovative the staff were - 'excuse me if I choke'.

No matter, we did it and we have that for life. What is curious however, is if we could operate this way in 1985, differences in learning and embracing new learning tools acknowledged and given great pomp and ceremony back then, why are we still battling to have the rights and needs of our learners acknowledged and catered for in 2007 - seems like we are caught in some strange time warp or vortex. If 2007 -2008 does not improve, I think I will try and head back to 1985.

Unlike digital literacy, learning to read has never been something that children could do for themselves. You cannot put a child in a room with a pile of books and just expect them to "crack the code"; someone has to be there to teach them. '.........confident "digital natives" who are now the students in our schools. Far from being passive recipients of existing knowledge, digi-kids have learnt by doing - by trial and error, and problem solving. It is not the right answer that they want; it is the right question they are after as they fearlessly try any of the new gadgets or applications. 'the digital generation are also physically active and often noisy as they collaborate, send messages, do podcasts and wait for replies (or fan mail). The youngest of them coolly click the mouse to search out the Wiggles and solve puzzles and problems; they create new words and signs, and scan their screens seeking friends, experiences - and information. ' 'Literacy has changed' 'learning has changed' 'It is liberating for teachers.....' ' If these changes were recognised and built upon, there would be massive savings in time, effort and money' ' The range of things students can do provides the proper basis of an educational strategy for the 21st century............................ traditional education policies provide little prospect of improvement.' '.......the nation is in the throes of an information revolution, and that literacy and learning are constantly changing. 'pressing need for educational policy that is based on the realities and requirements of today's digital students, rather than those of earlier generations.' '.......Treasurer, Peter Costello, might have been better advised to have provided a $700 voucher for teachers............ to employ... their students as digital literacy tutors.'

What a great idea!!!!! .

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