A bigger boy once told me I should reply to as many comments as possible both to promote dialogue, which seems to be near the heart of this blogging thing, and to kick up my Technorati ranking, which is, of course, the literal heart of this blogging thing.
I let ’em get away from me in the last post but the back-and-forth has been supremely satisfying without my input.
What I dig about what’s happening in there, as opposed to what I typically encounter and what typically frustrates me around the edublogsphere, is the commenters’ redefinition of purpose. Blogging, wiki-ing, Skyping, Second Life-ing, etc-ing, so often seem to be ends and goals unto themselves. (ie. the recent and totally-outta-touch Second Life promo; “We need to get these kids out of lectures and into their own content management systems.”)
In the comments, the goal has become Engagement By Any Means Necessary. In the comments, I’ve found blogs, wikis, podcasts, PowerPoint, lectures, electric sharpeners, manual sharpeners all wrested from their pedestals and put into a box more appropriately labeled “tools.”
What I find positively electrifying about teaching right now, what sends a charge through my cynical soul, is that there are so many tools at my disposal. I mean, not counting the traditional tools my dear old Dads had at his disposal when he first started teaching decades ago, ya got, like, what, at least a dozen of these shiny Web 2.0 tools ready to go.
What’s even more exciting to me (and what goes unacknowledged by much of School 2.0’s cheering section) is that none of these tools are guarantees. They’re all pointy and dangerous and tricky to deploy correctly and the difference between good and sloppy craftsmanship has never been greater. Is there a better job for a curious fella with workaholic tendencies?
So to any School 2.0 types inexplicably stopping by this watering hole for School 2.0 contrarians:
First, take cover.
Heh, no seriously, jk, c’mere.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep penning instruction manuals for these new tools. Heaven knows they drop a new one on you before the ink’s dried on your last how-to guide.
But let’s do each other a solid here and remain empathetic to classroom environments that are not our own. It bears continual repeating that there are contexts in which most School 2.0 tools would be almost laughably inappropriate, contexts where deploying a blog would result in the same intellectual atrophy you know lecture does in yours. I’m grateful to folks like Karen and Arthus (from the comments) for pointing me towards new tools for teaching old math. But the tool my particular kids need right now is a lecturer.
I hope you’ll bear that in mind as I try, this summer, to pin down what makes a capable lecturer.