« Time Out the Wazoo | Main | You're Still Out Here? »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Remember that Mark Pesce is an Immigrant to Australia himself and has been through Australia's Immigrant system to become an Aussie so he is well qualified to use that Metaphor .

Kelly Christopherson

The metaphor I refer to comes from Mark Prensky. It has been debated in numerous places as to whether it is a true description. For myself, and many others, it is not true. There are several things that don't fit, one being that to be born into "an era" doesn't make you a native of all the societal influences. Secondly, some of us who weren't born into it were growing "with" it, learning the intricacies and nuances that being born into it does not give you. On the surface it may appear to be a reasonable metaphor but, upon examination, it begins to create too many misconceptions that just don't need to be there. It is a divider - used as a catch phrase to convince adults that game playing is learning - so just let kids play games. As for Mark being an immigrant, I had no idea but it still doesn't change my view of the need for people to quit using the metaphor.

Roger Sweeny

"the freedom to teach for understanding"

To invoke a different metaphor, I don't think the problem has been a lack of supply of opportunities for students to understand. It has been a lack of demand on their part.

For the most part, they are relatively unwilling participants in schooling. Yes, they like the socializing. And they've been told since they entered daycare that if they don't get a diploma, they'll spend the rest of their lives saying, "You want fries with that?"

So most of them want to pass, and a significant number want to get good grades. Most would agree with the statement, "the better you do in school, the more money you'll make."

But they generally don't want to understand how to write a persuasive essay, or why electrons don't fall into the atomic nucleus, or what the founding fathers thought the proper role of a government should be. It's just not something they value.

No amount of hardware or software or internet use is going to change that.

Kelly Christopherson


Were you a willing participant? I know that I wasn't always that willing or eager. I didn't value it - I valued the socialization aspect. In fact, to graduate wasn't a necessity - you could do well without that diploma and many people have. Things have changed in that regard - it has become a necessity.
Is adolescents and the teenage years really the best time to be pushing this knowledge on to people? It was after I left highschool, spent time trying to earn a living and then went to university that I began to learn some of the things you mention. Just a note - I really don't understand about the electron thing but I don't need to and if I did, I have learned where to look for the answer, how to make it part of my knowledge base and connect it to my prior knowledge. But in highschool? I was playing sports, checking out girls and doing all the other things that teenage boys do. Anything academic was an extra. And I did well in school! I do think that school can be a powerful place but not in its current state. But that is a whole other discussion.

Roger Sweeny

Yes, I was pretty much a willing participant, though with some significant exceptions.

I am sure I am misreading the rest of your comment. It seems to say, high school was not, is not, and should not be about understanding things. But a high school diploma "has become a necessity."

So what about high school is necessary?

Kelly Christopherson

All of it and none of it. We talk about students needing the skills that they learn in school in order to be successful later on. Which skills? What do they need to know that is crucial to their success in the future? Reading and basic math skills I can understand. After that, what is critical for students to have? Is adolescents the place to learn about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Or are better off learning about rights and responsibilities as it applies to everyday life and where students ideas fit in this discussion regardless if they can identify which right and freedom is being discussed?
High school is about learning and expanding knowledge. Now if you want to say that is understanding - then highschool is about understanding. I don't. I don't think that at 15, 16, 17 or 18 you can "understand". You can question, add to your knowledge, seek out opinions but understanding is more than that. I mean, there are things that, at 42, I still don't understand - like how people support a religious war or kill to maintain peace or believe one race is superior to another or... We stick them in desks for extended periods of time, ask them to remain still and quiet and, in many cases, go over "facts" that we will later ask them to recall on a test. When they are very successful at that, we say they have learned and understood well. Have they? What have they understood?

Roger Sweeny

We may be, in the words of a wise man I once knew, violently agreeing.

But I don't understand the difference between "learning," "expanding knowledge," and "understanding."

The comments to this entry are closed.

About this blog