My Comments on David Warlick’s Comments about “Derailing Education”

Hmmm… sounds very convoluted…

This morning I was reading an entry that David Warlick wrote about some comments one of his readers blogged about his keynote address for the K12 Online Conference, and I felt like adding some of my thoughts in the mix as well.

From Tech and Teaching for High School,How can I enforce the importance of a bibliography when students can just go online and put their information into a website that creates bibliographies? Why should a student ever visit a library when they can get entire books online? And how do we make that meaningful and important to them other than telling them these are skills they “should” have?”

  • Excerpts from David Warlick’s response, “The ethical use of information is as important in our children’s digital networked information landscape as it was to our published print environment.  In fact, it is far more important… In my talks and writings about contemporary literacy, I maintain that the ethical use of information is as much a part of literacy as being able to read and write.” 

    • My thoughts… I don’t think how the bibliography is created (whether computer-generated or hand-written) is important.  What is important is that students realize the importance of intellectual property like ideas, writing, web code, etc., and I think David Warlick is correct when he says, “Our children will be content producers and intellectual property owners.  A majority of the teenagers in the U.S. already are.  Treating each others information with respect is now a personal issue, and a concept that can easily be addressed in the classroom as you teach students about copyright and creative commons within the context of their own reports, videos, web sites, and podcasts.  If they are convinced of the value and worth of their own work, then they may come to want to respect the work of others.”

Tech and Teaching for High School asks, “…I get the idea of meeting our kids on their level and finding ways to reach them that are meaningful. But does this just create more of a culture of instant gratification and self-indulgence? I really feel like my kids just expect everything to be handed to them. How can I challenge them and validate their context?”

  • Excerpts from David Warlick’s response, “…For our children, however, they understand that they will live in a time of rapid change.  They are accustomed to it.  Rapid change is an integral part of their experience.  ..and teaching them from the perspective that this knowledge will serve you for the rest of your life, has very little meaning to them.  It’s why it is so important to pay less attention to the content and more to the process.  We have to teach our students how to teach themselves.  It’s the best thing we can teach them.”

    • My thoughts… I don’t understand how teaching a student through a means that is purposeful and relevant to them will create a self-indulgent student.  It seems to me that it would create a motivated student… one who sees the value of learning and wants to learn more. It requires much more work and thought from a student to ask them to produce a meaningful and relevant product than to have them take a multiple-choice test or sit through a lecture. It requires creativty, patience, perseverance and problem-solving which does not tend towards immediate gratification.

Tech and Teaching for High school says,We can learn by sharing experiences only after we have them. Students can discuss what works for them and how they learn only after they have learned. I am not sure that the side trips can be the foundation. Without the foundation, how do you know what the side trips mean? Side trips can only be side trips in relation to the standard course. Or do we only know the standard course because we can define certain things as side trips? Either way, it is difficult to go on a side trip if you don’t have the rail to define the course for you.”

  • Excerpts from David Warlick’s response, “I agree with you entirely here… What I wanted to say was that the side trips should be what they remember.  When they think back to their schooling, it should be the side trips that they draw on for guidance and grounding. The basics on the rails remain the foundation, because without a foundation, a main road, a corridor, a rail — how can it be called a side trip?”

    • My thoughts… Standards or “the rail” are great to have as a guideline… a map to the intended destinantion.  Where the problems arise is when this rail is seen as the only way to reach the intended goal.  When it is so rigid that “side-trips” are not allowed.  When teachers and students are held so accountable to specific information within “the rail” that they never get to make connections and meaning for themselves.  “The rail” is great to have as a backbone, but students and teachers need to be able to add to it and deviate from it in order for “real” learning to occur.

Hope the above he said/she said was not too difficult to follow. 🙂

By the way, did I mention how much I love the fact that blogs allow me to discuss ideas with educators (and anyone really) in different areas of the world. Without them when would I have ever gotten to be a part of this conversation?

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One Comment on “My Comments on David Warlick’s Comments about “Derailing Education””

  1. Elaine Plybon Says:

    As I was reading the questions, I kept thinking, “move into the 21st century!”. I agree, it seems like HOW a bibliography or HOW a lesson is delivered isn’t the point — it’s what the student learns, retains, and is able to apply to future learning that is important!!! If we can’t grow with our students, then we’re keeping them from reaching their full potential!


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