Thursday, August 18, 2011

On the desire to knock GPS devices out of my students' hands

I'm still here; I've been tied up with settling in, still, into the new place and, this past week, attending meetings that might actually, this year, help me become a better teacher for my students--since, this year, I've heard some things that actually speak to me directly as a teacher.

This weekend, I hope to post something a little more substantial here. In the meantime, ponder this statement, which, though taken a bit out of context, will be my mantra for the coming year: "This is no place for fast-food intellectuals."

(Speaking of Mr. Coates: He has a recurring series of posts titled "The Civil War Isn't Tragic" that in this, the sesquicentennial of the firing on Ft. Sumter, are well worth your time. Reading this man's engaging with James McPherson's writing on the origins of the war and, inspired by that, how a socioeconomic system can shape the thinking and choices of, even, those people not directly invested in the maintaining of it, have been a bracing tonic for the mind of late. You might find that to be the case as well.)

4 comments:

R. Sherman said...

I'm stuck trying to figure out why a student who is stationary in a room in a known location would need to be diddling with a GPS during class.

Or is this one of those "tree falls in forest with no one around" philosophical questions? If so, I'm flunking this pop-quiz.

Cheers.

John B. said...

Yeah--that's something of an inside joke, with me the only person in on it. Sorry about that.

Here's the explanation: The analogy had occurred to me a couple of days ago that many of my students approach their educational goals in much the same way that they use GPS devices.

R. Sherman said...

I get it. They expect a map and not an exploration.

Cheers.

John B. said...

Well, actually, some don't even want a map. They want to know what they want to know; they could care less about having some some decisions left to themselves about how to learn what they want to know. Following a GPS's directions is a supremely passive activity on the part of the user. A map would at least provide a little context for the route they decide to take; the user would have to take into account, at least a little, what lies just off the route s/he chooses.

Another analogy: Learning takes place in silos, don't you know. No need (much less desire) to see the farm the silos sit on, or the sun and the rain that fall on the farm.