It’s 3AM In The Edublogosphere

It’s been on the ‘tubes for a few months but I only just caught A Vision of K-12 Students Today, written and directed by BJ Nesbitt, via Stephen Downes who’s also coming at it late.

It’s risible (which probably explains why it’s only now crossing my desk) but in too many valuable ways to ignore it outright.

Specifically, if you commissioned a satire of the lamest elements of the edublogosphere — the sensational handwringing, the naked pleas to “please think of the children” (as if pottery teachers who don’t assign their students to podcasts equivalently don’t care about them) — you couldn’t do better than Nesbitt.

Tellingly, of the three State of the Educational Union addresses burning up the Internet today — Nesbitt’s, Mike Wesch’s A Vision of Students Today, and the Fisch/McLeod joint, Did You Know 2.0 — Nesbitt deploys the fewest statistics and invokes the loudest appeal to emotion.

Right here, I can’t avoid the comparison to Hillary Clinton’s equally risible Children campaign ad.

They both paint from the same palette of moral black and white. They both exploit children to promote an adult’s agenda. They both seek progress (hopelessly) through posture and intimidation. They both explain, respectively, why I won’t elect Hillary Clinton and why I find it difficult to engage the School 2.0 sectarians, however pure of intent they may be.

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I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.

17 Comments

  1. While I find Fisch’ and Wesch’ work largely valuable and fairly accurate, I had a similar reaction as you to this one. I’ve spent lots of time in elementary schools and I really can’t see any kid consciously or unconsciously thinking these things. Nothing comes off as pure exploitive as staging kids to speak like adults. I agree, this is not great ammunition for School 2.0.

    What is that anyway?

  2. Nothing new here–people are always going to manipulate videos for propaganda. Kids are being used. Wait a minute, isn’t that the title of another one–Us/ing us?

  3. Ack, thanks a lot for ruining my nice morning coffee and blog-reading time. I tried to watch the Fisch one next, and couldn’t make it through. The thought of pointing out all the misuses of statistics in this Nesbitt one just makes me tired. Oh, wait, it might be fun to work with a high school English class to apply critical thinking to these videos. Of course it wouldn’t be worth doing unless we made a MySpace page about it.

    And I love technology.

  4. Funny that this should come up now as I wrestle with the fall-on-your-butt stark contrast between what I saw in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans and the fact that I have watched “Do You Know?” FOUR times in different contexts this past year and a half– one of them at ASCD.

    Seems to me the “please think of the kids” plea does have traction in one place at least, Dan: where children’s fundamental Maslowian needs are not being met. Post-Katrina New Orleans is arguably one of those places. And so it’s even more bitterly ironic to me that rampant technophilia’s “child-centered” rhetoric does not seem to have an answer to why 31,000 families are still in FEMA trailers there.

  5. @Dina: I don’t think AVK12T addresses the human condition you witnessed in NO, which, I have little doubt, was awful.

    AVK12T advocates for the millions of students who beg, “Please let me think,” and whose teachers, each one made wholly from straw, reply, “No.”

  6. It’s BILLIONS, Dan. Honestly, your fact-checking is horrendous. And I really think you should be more appreciative of the word-for-word appropriation of huge chunks of “Do You Know?” in AVK12T, too. People need to have information presented to them in several different ways. It’s just good pedagogy.

    More seriously, it’s precisely my point that AVK12T does *not* address the human condition in NO (or in the US)– nor does any tech sectarian. Richest per capita, and still leading the world in child poverty in industrialized nations? Upgrading your district’s connection to T1 cable so your kids can “create something new digitally” just doesn’t seem like it ought to be an overarching priority, does it.

  7. Dan, impressed with your thoughts on this. Last October I crtiticised Mike Wesch’s video and in response I was labelled “too harsh”. I was quite happy to read that. But I did get support as well. In fact i was glad people were reading my blog. Hooray!

    Essentially I wrote that I grow tired of these ‘inspirational’ videos. Perhaps it is the nauseatingly sentimental background music, or the kitsch use of slogans and messages. They seem to state the same thing…. “The world is changing, students are changing, we need to change, we are rich, they are poor, and so on.”

    But, there is one thing for sure. This video and others like it will all be dished out by presenters to fill out their sixty minute gig at the next conference. That really pisses me off. Hell no! I swore on the Internet!

    I gotta go. My cat wants me.

    Cheers, John

  8. I had to stop watching. I have the same issues with this as I do with the Did You Know 2.0 video AND Marc Prensky (http://www.marcprensky.com/), a proponent of gaming as a teaching method: Our children are watching 16 hours of T.V. a week but only reading 3 hours?! Why is this a statistic we are celebrating? (Well, maybe that’s a poor word choice, but I think condoning fits.)

    Nesbitt points out these statistics about China leading the world in English speakers — that’s because they read books and study language. It (probably) has very little to do with how many laptop carts they have in their schools and their ability to make WoW educational.

    I know we have to reach our “digital native” students, but not at the expense of paper and pencil. If I have a student that turns in a paper using TXTing slang, I shouldn’t allow it because that’s “how they do it nowadays.” (I realize this is an exaggeration of what the Edu 2.0 peeps are proposing, but I am trying to make a point.)

    My other issue is (Boy oh boy I just spend 10 weeks and many discussion posts on this for an online grad course on 21st Century Teaching) students/teenagers AREN’T (all) blogging — at least blogging the way we know blogging (the whole edublog sphere, for instance). They are writing shallow and superficial diary entries about their day at school and what the current gossip is concerning Jenny and Johnny. I am sorry to be such a cynic here, but it’s true. I surveyed a few of my students with a range of ability levels for my grad course, and even the most advanced ones were not blogging about pressing matters of the world. My lower level students didn’t even game or get on the computer at home. When asked what they did in their free time they listed OUTDOOR activities. Imagine that. Natural light.

    Whew! Thanks for getting me all fired up — I hadn’t seen this video. It’s been a while since I ranted about Did You Know – http://poeticallychallanged.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/web-20-has-ruined-the-next-generation/