Not forgetting the past

The world of technology and its potential to change education and open up a new world of possibilities for our children amazes me and inspires me. Two posts from excellent bloggers has reminded me though that we must not forget the good things that come from the past as we proceed into the wonderful world of our globally connected village school.

It also made me think about a great discussion that I took part in this week about Face to Face learning and e-learning in education which took place on #edchat on Twitter. As usual with these discussions there was a rich debate about the potential for an electronic classroom and there were those who said…hold on..we still need to have face-to-face. I found that I was very much in the latter camp as I believe that children need a social interaction with each other, they need to physically connect and also they need to touch and feel  and see others doing the same.

As a person fascinated by history I understand the need to make sure that,as we move forwards towards a brave new world, we do not forget the really good things that made us who we are and created the basis for what we will become.

I was pleased therefore that, within a few hours of each other, I read two excellent blog posts that brought to mind what I had been thinking about. That we must always learn from the past, take the good things that the past gives us and also not forget the validity and importance that these people and things have for us now.

The first posting was by Sarah Edson whose blog is called “Learning Off the Beaten Path”. I got the link to this posting from Mark Moran who is the CEO of the excellent organisation “Finding Dulcinea” and who I am pleased to say I follow on Twitter and am a friend of on Facebook. I get a lot of excellent links from Mark and try to follow up as many as I can.  Mark did a link to his “Finding Dulcinea Blog” with a recent entry on “The Importance of Great Educators, Again”  http://blog.findingdulcinea.com/2010/09/the-importance-of-great-educators-again.html

This blog post had links to a number of his recent entries on the blog including a brilliant video of a (then) twelve year old keynote speaker, Dalton Sherman, speaking at an Educational Conference in Dallas in 2008 as well as an interview with the wonderful and inspirational Maya Angelou, where she talked about her life and how her love for poetry got her to overcome her elected silence from the age of 8 to 12.

Notwithstanding the power and importance of these two links, it was the third link that was to lead me to Sarah Edson and her wonderful post “I Need You”  http://www.sarahedson.com/

This was a simply beautiful post. In it Sarah recalls the last days of her wonderful mother’s life. She shows us in the post just how much she learned from  her mother, including the ability to read and use sign language, which her mother had taught her because she believed in all forms of communication in order to get through to the children she taught.

I will not discuss the whole post here excepting to say that it is wonderfully written and moving and would be something that any one of us bloggers would be proud to have “penned”.

This last word “penned” conveniently leads me to the second blog post that I read just a few hours after being moved and inspired by Sarah’s post. I am a follower of a really excellent blogger by the name of Shelly Blake-Plock who writes a blog called “Teach Paperless”. Shelly’s posts are usually fascinating insights into the way that he uses technology to teach history and social studies. He is an excellent user of the technology and I would love to be in his class as I am sure I would learn so much.

His latest post though was a powerful one that actually showed how, after studying the genocide in Darfur and the civil war in the Sudan he got his students to actually get out their pens and put the old technology of pen to paper in order to write to their Senator about their feelings in respect of the atrocities they had looked at and what was being done about the aftermath now.

It was fascinating , coming from such a proponent of technology as Shelly that he had taken the time to allow the children to experience the feel of a pen and the personal touch of writing a letter to their senator. The post can be seen at: http://teachpaperless.blogspot.com/2010/09/sending-snail-mail-from-paperless.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+teachpaperless+%28TeachPaperless%29

Both of these posts remind us of the importance of not forgetting the past. There are great educators, like Sarah’s mother and great processes, such the skill of writing on a piece of paper and the development of your own distinctive handwriting style (indeed of calligraphy) that have shaped what we are today and need to be taken into the world of what we will become tomorrow.

Yes, we do need to celebrate the potential that technology gives us, but we must not rush into the fully electronic classroom at the expense of denying our children personal contact with inspiring adults, of the ability to manipulate materials,to act and jump and climb, to  paint and to dance with one another. If we do that we will have lessened our humanity and done a disservice to our children and their children.

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One Response

  1. Change takes the time it takes.

    Not changing because of a lack of understanding isn’t cool though :) Obvious from reading this post you understand where change is taking us and you aren’t “fighting” against it.

    Good post, especially potent as I’m going to see a keynote on this in November.

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