Also: Why Crash Isn’t As Good As You Think It Is
A few weeks ago I posted this diptych, the only intent of which was to illustrate my gripping inability to see left and right from my students’ perspective.
A commenter hinted at a metaphor beneath the surface, one which eluded me until coupla days ago when Christian Long literalized it substantially.
Christian takes Creative Commons to Threat Level Midnight, completely remixing my original point and launching those photos on a faraway journey to School 2.0 land, where one of largest predators is the one-way dynamic between teacher and student. Christian holds my diptych up as an example of this kind of passive learning (he means no offense and none is taken; it’s a selective look at my practice) and asks what the future of learning would look like if similarly put to photographs.
It’s an evenhanded critique of traditional education, so evenhanded, in fact, I have to seize the moment to point out how other School 2.0-ists prop up their agenda by slinging mud at the traditional speaker-audience model.
It happens anytime I write on proper PowerPoint practices or the habits of speakers who don’t bore me. Someone writes an e-mail or a comment decrying PowerPoint and public speaking as nefarious tools of self-absorbed teachers who subjugate their students into learning comas. There are usually omniscient quotes like this one in the original post, “sit passively and absorb all my knowledge,” or, from a linked post by the same zealous commenter, “I know everything. You know nothing.”
Some School 2.0-ists saw those photos and then leaped to the worst conclusions about my class environment:
It’s a dishonest and annoying approach to a multi-faceted problem, one which ignores the many shades of gray between hardcore constructivism and hardcore direct instruction.
Likewise, with Crash, the best justice Paul Haggis could do to the complexities of racism in America today was a white cop violating a black woman at a roadside stop. In Crash‘s universe, nothing less than the same white cop pulling the same black woman from a flaming SUV could constitute racial reconciliation.
I was in college when Crash lowered the bar on racism to somewhere around shin level for me and my classmates. And so it was that many students I knew, students who indulged in subtler forms of discrimination like the racism of lowered expectations, walked right over that bar and concluded, “I’m alright ’cause I’m not that pervert racist cop.”
So if you’re serious about this School 2.0 thing (or anything else, really; a lot of anti-NCLB rhetoric leaps to mind) you’ve gotta dodge the lame caricatures. Their dishonesty irritates the people most likely to get behind you and then gives the people who most need what you’re selling a free pass to ignore you.
“I’ve never told my class to sit passively and absorb my knowledge,” they’ll read you and say. “So reckon I’m doin’ alright.”