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Pete - I read this the day it was posting and thought I'd sit for a while. I was hoping that when I came back there'd be a conversation going on about your post.

There's not.

That's too bad.

I think what your post is missing isn't in the nature of connectivity that our students have with technology. What it's missing is the fact that the folks working with young people (people like you and me) don't get it.

We don't get that what used to take us 180 days teach students things they can learn in a matter of minutes with good Google searching skills. If we are realizing this, it certainly isn't changing the nature of what's going on in the classroom. The vast majority of what's being taught falls into those two lowest levels of blooms and most of what falls into those levels can be discovered via search engine.

What we also don't realize is that our students need to learn a lot faster that they used to. Bad news, if you're a traditional teacher you've still got 180 days to kill. If all of the drill and kill can be looked up in a matter of seconds what are teachers going to with the other 179 days? Good news, our students are already doing this. Ask how they're getting help with their math from Yahoo! Answers. As how they're using their social networks to get there school work done. Ask how the band that they're in, that's never played a show, recorded in their bedroom put the music up on MySpace, and they now have over 1000 followers can lead to a music contract (lots of stuff to learn fast there).

Here's what's appalling, to me. Every year we get 180 days to work with young people and every year we waste most of their time getting students ready for our past instead of getting them ready for their future. We focus on curriculum instead of kids. We focus on the way we wish things were instead of the way things are and we expect kids to relate to that.

We can continue down this path, but we have to understand that drop-out rates will remain the same, student engagement will dwindle, and that eventually (but not soon enough) students will become vocal about what's happening behind the school house gates and demand a change.

Dean Shareski

What if a kid says I spend 8 hours a day reading and playing the piano? We'd likely applaud. Why? Because we see those activities as virtuous. I'll agree that balance is virtue too but I think for the focus should be in helping the time spent in front of a screen to be of value and meaning. The book "Everything is bad is good for you" by Steven Berlin Johnson helps understand this somewhat.

But so much of this is about context and perspectives. What is so precious about a printed book? It's just words on paper instead of a screen. (see the Kindle) Why is that better? Many might argue and do that kids are reading and writing way more today because of access.

I won't argue against balance but am careful not to bring my "we walked 8 miles up hill both ways" attitude into the discussion about kids today. It usually doesn't go very far. Instead, I want to model what I believe to be a balanced, meaningful existence that includes whatever technology necessary or exclude whatever technology is unnecessary.

Kelly Christopherson

I wonder how many hours of practice it takes each day to become a concert pianist? How about the time spent practicing to become a professional athlete? What about becoming a doctor? For me, the time these people devote to achieving their goals is time I would rather spend doing other things. But it's not my choice.

The great thing about being older is that I can see where some things are going and decide about whether I want to spend my time doing that or not. One problem is that I sometimes don't allow myself some of the pleasures I did when I was younger because I have other, more productive, things to do and know that my time can be better spent.

As I watch my children do a wide variety of things, I realize that they are making their own decisions about their time. I might not make the same decisions, with age comes wisdom, but I hold their youth against them and I don't begrudge that their youth is much different than mine in much the same way that my youth was different from my parents. I mean, with life expectancy what it is, they'll have plenty of years to spend making up for lost time - about 55 or so. It may not be the way you or I would think of spending our time here but, then again, ours is a bit less than theirs. Isn't that what being young is about? Making choices and learning what consequences are all about.


I hadn't checked back here to see these comments, I apologize.

Glenn, while I agree that the way we are teaching today and the levels of accountability required by NCLB are basically preparing our kids for the 20th century (the past); I disagree that they are learning quicker and that they (as a group( are using these amazing technology tools to help them in their learning.

My experience with my own children (3 teens) is that while they'll use the tools on special projects and some homework. The majority of their time (on the computer..never mind phone, TV, and Wii) is spent socializing and playing.

So, yes it's appalling that we spend 180 days a year preparing them for the world as it was in the 20th century AND it is appalling that our kids our spending many years of their lives in front of a TV, playing games, etc.

I am an advocate for change AND I believe, as adults we have shared values that we should not abdicate to the lowest common denominator of popular culture (see Brittany Spears).



I don't disagree with your final statement...

"I want to model what I believe to be a balanced, meaningful existence that includes whatever technology necessary or exclude whatever technology is unnecessary."

I think that's what I was trying to say.

I wrote this the way I did to bring attention to the fact that the statistics we use to justify technological change need to be looked at through a different lens.

It's like seeing a statistic that our kids are eating 3000 calories per day and extrapolating that we need to have more high calorie foods for them in the lunchroom...rather than discussing whether 3000 calories per day is actually good for them.



I remember all those thousands of hours
that I spent in grade school watching the clock,
waiting for recess or lunch or to go home.
Waiting: for anything but school.
My teachers could easily have ridden with Jesse James
for all the time they stole from me.

Richard Brautigan

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