The idea of a single story being dangerous is something I think about every day as a teacher. In my view, it is my job to make sure students don’t see only one perspective but as many as possible. If we aren’t careful and aren’t intentional about telling those other stories, young people today will only see what is in the media and what culture tells them. Most of the time that includes a highly Eurocentric view that may or may not be accurate. That is one of the biggest criticisms of textbooks as well. They tend to tell only the politically correct Eurocentric story instead of painting a story of reality. I think combatting the single story is hardest to do in the social science classes. The breadth and depth of what is required for educators to teach in a US history class, for example, leaves little time for considerations of what the Native Americans went through, even though some could argue that the entire class should be taught from their perspective.
In my view, this is why it is important for me to tell my story, the story of my classroom, and the story of my students. Without the documentation of our experiences, others must rely purely on what they have heard or been told and, with that, comes the risk of misinterpretation and misinformation being passed on. For me, this is a disservice because the more life experience I can share, the more perspectives being drawn from, the more learning can occur, and the more students are able to formulate their own opinions on the world instead of simply relying on what they have been told. It is important for students to see other sides of what they are learning so when they go out into the real world they are open to differences, able to make their own conclusions, and look to see life from multiple perspectives. The only way to create a more culturally aware, open-minded generation is to face those stereotypes and misconceptions head on.
Before reading this book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, I assumed nobody really cared about what I was doing as a teacher and the less I brag about myself the better. However, I am surprised to say that this book changed my mind. I realized, who really cares if nobody else cares about my work because I do. If I keep at it, and stay humble, it will pay off. It won’t necessarily pay off in terms of making money but it will pay off in terms of making connections with collaborators, finding inspirations, gaining valuable feedback, and finding my voice. One of the quotes that really stuck with me was, “...the only way to find your voice is to use it. It's hardwired, built into you. Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow” (p. 21). I've realized that in sharing work and communicating my process, I will find my voice, direction, and purpose as an educator and leader.
The other big lesson I took away from reading this book is to stay humble. Even after years of experience in teaching and sharing, there is always something to improve on, a new way of doing things, and new people to “copy.” In the book, Austin Kleon puts it eloquently when he states, “The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it's turning us all into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown” (p.18). I think the best thing for me and for my future students is to never be in the position of being the keeper of all knowledge. Just like my students, I am always learning, getting new ideas, and continually reinventing.
“If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community” (p.127). I think this is the stage I’m working on right now. I am trying to take in as much as I can from educators and leaders in my community so I can, in turn, give back and share my stories with them and future leaders when the time is right. In the words of Austin Kleon, the process is messy, but thats why its a process and not a thing.
Quote: “In the new information economy, expertise is less about having a stockpile of information or facts at one's disposal and increasingly about knowing how to find and evaluate information on a given topic” (p.93). I chose this quote because it really gave me perspective on what learning is like today. I love the idea of changing what questions into where can I find the information questions and then exploring and analyzing the findings.
Question: The question that I continuously come back to and struggle with is, “Is there a point or benefit from teaching students concepts that can easily be looked up?”
Connection: The connection I made from this chapter involves the idea of play. This is something I am exploring and trying to implement more into my classroom. I feel as if this idea is there but harder to implement. The internet is helping me to find more ways to use it and resources for making it fun and enriching for the students.
Epiphany: My aha moment came when the author describes play as a way to bridge the gap between what we know and what we want to achieve. I think this is an awesome way to describe what the point of hands-on, inquiry-based activities are striving to do. Play is a way to explore the concepts and theories of education while also allowing students to do it in their own way.
Quote: “The richness of experience and social agency produced by hanging out and the sense of embodiment and personal agency created by messing around, combined with the sense of making, produces what we think is the ultimate goal of indwelling: learning” (p.104). I love the way this quotation brings Ito’s three ideas together to paint the picture of how young people are learning through social media in today’s society.
Question: How do I use these three ideas in a classroom when a large chunk of what I teach is dictated by state and national standards?
Connection: I personally connect with Ito’s three ideas from this class, EDSS 530. Last semester we earned our “hanging out badge” by becoming residents of social media while this semester we are earning our messing around and geeking out badges by exploring our interests through social media and creating a collective.
Epiphany: I think my epiphany from this chapter was just realizing where the terms “hanging out,” “messing around,” and “geeking out” come from. It makes the different badges we are completing in this course much more meaningful.
Quote:” Accordingly, the culture that emerges, the new culture of learning, is a culture of collective inquiry that harnesses the resources of the network and transfer them into nutrients within the petri dish environment, turning it into the space of play and experimentation” (p.118). This quotation, on the last page of the book, perfectly summarizes the connection between the changing environment of learning with an almost unlimited supply of information, and then using that to fuel learning through play and inquiry.
Question: How can I bring more play into my science classroom?
Connection: The overarching connection I have made from the ideas presenting in this book is to the Next Generation Science Standards. I think, to the best of their ability, the writers of the new science standards have incorporated many of these ideas into the “best practices” for teaching science. They have emphasized the need for inquiry, hands-on exploration of the material, and using technology as a tool and resource. I hope to use this in my classroom as much as possible in hopes of engaging as well as teaching my students where and how they can play while learning.
Epiphany: This book made me realize that play is and should be a part of learning. We are in a time when students can create their own learning and therefore explore their own passions. This is something I plan to cultivate in my classroom and help mold my students into lifelong learners.
Quote: “Unlike a classroom where a teacher controls the lecture, the organic communities that emerge through collectives produce meaningful learning because the inquiry that arises comes from the collective itself” (p. 54). I chose this quote because it hits on the theme of students learning from students in a community of knowledge versus students learning from one person telling them something is true. The word inquiry really stuck with me and connected the ideas from previous chapters.
Question: If we model that classroom after a collective, what role does the teacher take on or is there even a need for a teacher? What is the best way to facilitate this type of learning?
Connection: I really connected to the part of this chapter that talks about how much learning goes on outside of the classroom. I liked the connection the book made to college and how much growth comes from being in an educational environment and living with your peers. I think the time when I learned the most about what interests me and have retained that knowledge was in college. The flow of information that occurs is constant and varied but not necessarily happening inside of a classroom. It felt like it was my choice to learn versus something forced upon me.
Epiphany: I love the idea of a collective thriving on participation versus thriving on a sense of belonging. This idea brings so much more depth to the digital world and sharing of information.
Quote: “Through the new media, the collective serves not only as a kind of resource for learning but also as a kind of amplifier: It intensifies and heightens the process of learning by continuously relating it back to the personal” (p.67). I think this quote emcompases the theme of this chapter: the product is greater than the sum of its parts.
Question: How do we, as teachers, make sure students are learning the standards we are required to teach with this kind of collective classroom model?
Connection: In this chapter I connected to the part that discusses blogging. Last semester, we created our Personal Learning Network blogs (the very one you are reading now) and cultivated them throughout the semester. While I learned a lot from the articles and videos I was blogging about, I learned even more and gained more perspective from reading my peers’ blog posts. Seeing how other people reacted and responded differently to the same video was fascinating to me.
Epiphany: My aha moment came with the phrase “The product is greater than the sum of its parts.” While this is not necessarily a new concept to me, it was different for me to apply it to the classroom. I feel as if teachers are constantly trying to keep students separate and thinking only with one opinion: the one they came up with. But so much more can be learned when every opinion in the class is pooled and analyzed.
Quote: “With just a small shift, from answering questions to asking them, inquiry emerges as a tool for harnessing not only the passion of students but also the stockpile of tacit knowledge that comes from a lifetime of experience doing the things that have become second nature to them” (p.85). I love this quote because it perfectly embodies the relation of inquiry, tacit knowledge, and indwelling.
Question: How would the new culture of learning deal with the type of students who are easily frustrated by things they can’t figure out and give up?
Connection: In this chapter, I really connected with the passage about how many college students did not know what topic they wanted to study for their college thesis because nobody had ever asked them what their passions were. I can relate to this from my own schooling but more than that, I connect with this because it strikes me as something I hope my students never feel. I hope in my class alone, students can discover what they like about science if not what their passions are regarding the natural world.
Epiphany: My aha moment when it clicked for me how inquiry fits into this new culture of learning. I have been learning about the NGSS and the importance of inquiry in the science classroom, but I hadn’t really applied it to all of education before and if done so in the right way, it can have profound effects for our students.
Quote: “The bridge between them - and what makes the concept of the new culture of learning so potent - is how the imagination was cultivated to harness the power of almost unlimited informational resources and create something personally meaningful” (p.31). I chose this quotation because I think it sums up the message throughout the case studies in this chapter. Each story highlighted how the world wide web, while at first seems like something that is so vast and impersonal, can actually be very personal and meaningful.
Question: My questions from this chapter then becomes how does this idea of a new culture of learning fit in with human-to-human contact? In this new culture, is the digital world replacing a classroom and face-to-face conversation? I have a feeling, however, that this will be addressed in the coming chapters.
Connection: After reading this chapter, what I really connected with was the story “Teaching in a Galaxy Far, Far Away”. What I really connected with was the quote, “...how powerful it can be when students see each other as resources and figure out how to learn from one another” (p.25). I connected with this because, as teachers, we are continually doing this in our credential program and throughout our careers. I am learning so much from what my classmates and other teachers have taught me that cannot be replaced by time in the classroom. For example, the Twitter chat that I participated in last semester with teachers from around the country gave me so much insight and support that I would not have had without digital communication.
Epiphany: My “Aha!” moment from this chapter was the idea of how to “cultivate the imagination.” I have never thought of learning in this way but the analogy brought a lot of clarity to my idea of how I want to teach my students. I am the gardener who is giving them the access to the resources they need to grow and survive.
Quote: “We believe, however, that learning should be viewed in terms of an environment - combined with the rich resources provided by the digital information network - where the context in which learning happens, the boundaries that define it, and the students, teachers, and information within it all coexist and shape each other in a mutually reinforcing way” (p.35). I chose this quotation because it makes the reader think, it forces you (or at least it did me) to paint a picture in your mind of what this could look like.
Question: On question that I came away with after reading this chapter is how can we transform the classrooms from the mechanistic view to this new culture? What steps do we, as teachers, need to take in order to get there?
Connection: “Individuals can choose to join cultures, but no individual can create one” (p. 36). I relate to this discussion of culture because I think, as teachers, we imagine creating a certain culture within the classroom with their students. In reality, the point that I think is being made here is that the teachers cannot create the culture, the culture of the school, students, and community are brought into the classroom and the teacher can either choose to stay static or change and evolve with it.
Epiphany: This new idea of a culture of learning that thrives on change puts us IN the real world, IN the learning experience, and IN the very environment that we are learning about. I have never thought of learning or culture this way but it puts perspective on how traditional methods leave something to be desired.
Quote: “Making knowledge stable in a changing world is an unwindable game" (p. 46). I think this quotation embodies what this chapter is pointing out about the traditional ways of doing education. I agree with the point it is making that we are not doing students any favors by pretending that what we are teaching them is static and never going to change.
Question: The question that I have from this chapter is what a classroom would look like with this new culture? How is it different from what classrooms look like today?
Connection: In this chapter, I really connected with the section that discussed the Harry Potter series. I was one of those kids who really connected with the story and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the newest book. Before reading these books, I was not much of a reader but through Harry Potter, I realized that finding something engaging and relatable can inspire learning like nothing else can.
Epiphany: My aha moment came right at the end of this chapter. The author states that we cannot blame the pitfalls of education on too much structure or insufficient structure because neither one address the real problem. We need the classroom to be more flexible and innovative if it is to keep up with the rapid change going on around us.
Link to video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZGNmyMP1hc
After reading this article, I wrote an entire blog post, reread it, and then deleted it. I left it for a few days and am now coming back to try again. I am struggling with writing a post on this article because I’m really just unsure how I feel about it. At first thought, I think, Google is wrong, a GPA and college degree are important and they cannot be discounted. But then at second thought, I can’t really disagree with what Laszlo Bock is saying. I know plenty of highly intelligent, successful, happy people who don’t have a college degree and there is nothing they would change. On the other hand, I was raised being told that I have to go to college to be successful in life and college is an essential “life experience” and I wouldn’t change that experience either. Honestly, what I think I’m getting to is that everyone is different, everyone has different goals, values, etc. and therefore everyone has their own path. My belief as a future high school teacher is that it is my job to prepare my students the best I can to go into the real world. Whether that be college or not, I am still preparing them for life beyond high school. Some of the qualities Laszlo Bock lists as being most important in a potential hire are definitely the same qualities I want to instill in my students as preparation for life beyond school. He lists:
1. General cognitive ability - processing on the fly
2. Leadership - can you step up if need be
3. Humility and Ownership - intellectual humility, learning from failure
as qualities they look for at Google in a potential hire. I think these qualities hit the nail on the head for what every person needs to live a successful life. My favorite quote from the article read, “You need a big ego and a small ego in the same person at the same time.” I say, let's teach our students to be confident but humble, driven but willing to make mistakes, and focused but adaptable.
Friedman, T. (2014, February 22). How to Get a Job at Google. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=2