2011 has been such a busy year – for me personally and for the whole world. Reflection in the face of such adversity and there is always barrage of events that grip us, challenge us and occasionally swallow us up and spit us out. In 2011, I experienced all of these things and more and I’m glad that I’m a better person for it.
As an educator, it’s my job to help make sense of a world that I so often struggle to understand for myself. In recent years, my classes have been polarised – as a Connected Learning teacher in Year 7, senior (Years 11-12) English and several teacher groups for ICT, I see the ends of the secondary school spectrum and like to think I have a good perspective on learners from a wide range of ages. I see at both sides of the spectrum the innate desire to understand our world and find our place in it. This is never easy, but technology helps us if we know how to use it – and I wouldn’t be able to understand the world as I do without it.
Despite the old analogies of digital “natives” and “immigrants,” I see twelve year olds who struggle endlessly with technology just as I see learners over 60 whose use surpasses my own in sophistication and understanding. More than anything, I see my job as a connector, helping the right person to find and use the right tool for the right job.
While technology is changing rapidly, it’s important to take heart in a few constants. For me, life with technology is unpredictable, being both stressful and empowering; both frustrating and liberating. At the same time, I see very little change to the way that we as a global society make use of technology and our use boils down to three basic verbs: to consume, to curate or to create. Having done all three in various combinations, frequencies and sequences over the years, I remain convinced that in order to value and maintain an open society in which learners can genuinely become the people they want to be, we need to promote all three of these approaches in education.
The problem seems to be that we too often emphasise consumption at the cost of both creation and curation. Without all three, we can’t live sustainably. Endless and mindless consumption of the world’s resources – whether ideas, media, food, resources or values – fails to create anything new or value-adding, including solutions to the problems of our own making.
So, for 2012, I’d like to promote a better balance in my own teaching and help my students to:
- be better critical consumers of resources;
- become curators of what helps us to help one another and become the people we want to be; and
- create our own expressions of self sustainably and compassionately.
I’m excited about technology for education and what it holds for this year and into the future.