No Rug Big Enough

For your consideration, an elegant statement about the place of technology in schools.

Beyond any personal loss, I find it disturbing the school board and administrators chose to cut this service, and continue to obscure the fact that schools are not facing the reality described in the video.

It is equally disappointing that this is not more of an issue for the community. My kids are grown now, and they’re facing other educational horizons. But it seems crucial for a town that wishes to be vital, these challenges cannot be shirked.

The President, and our Governor pay constant lip service to boosting this aspect of our development. They laud at length the importance of technological integration. A place that values learning and progress does not let their schools sweep this under the rug.

The presentation here is by Sir Kenneth Robinson, an educational innovator. Among his other claims to fame, his TED talk,”Do Schools Kill Creativity” is the single most viewed entry on that site. His speech here appears as part of an Adobe study on 21st Century Education.

Comments | 4

  • media and tech

    When I worked at the Children’s Museum in DC, one of my favorite aspects to my job running the media arts program was providing high-quality tools to kids so they could create videos, animation, radio shows, computer art, and so on.

    We’d figure out what sort of tools or software we wanted, then we’d approach the president or PR wing of whatever company made the product and see if they’d donate one. Often, they did. We got things like a Steadicam Jr, and 3-D animation software this way.

    Very quickly, I realized that the fastest way to learn what new software was capable of was to find an interested kid and have them play with it, then explain it to me.

    I’ll never forget giving an early version of Infini-D, a 3-D modeling, rendering, and animation package to a 10 year old. he say there for a few hours, clicking and making things. He played by no rules, and had no instruction.

    When he finished he had maxed out the program’s memory with a screen full of shiny, detailed 3-D spheres made of a variety of materials (chrome, gold, steel, stone, etc.) I asked him what it was. He said he had created the kingdom of God.

    I remember a 2 year old that had a natural ability to do 2-D cutout animation using a frame controller , 3-Chip camera, and professional animation stand. She just sat there, moving things and snapping frames. Her parents had to drag her away.

    What I learned was that if you give kids really good tools, they are capable of using them and creating really interesting things. Too often, we give kids the “kid-version” of something. This leads to kid-version results, and frustration, because kids are sophisticated and can tell the difference between something that is useful and high quality, or not.

    When anyone learns to make a video, record a song, take photos, or write a computer app, they become much smarter consumers of the media and technology they’ve come to understand. Ie, they aren’t suckers amazed by “magic” anymore. They know the work that goes into making something.

    I never taught “technology” – we always were aiming for stories, and stories require writing plus the media or tech to bring it to life. The tech was a tool used to enhance communication.

    One final story. I’m in my office and a high school student calls me, frantic. Can he come to the museum immediately? I said sure.

    When he got there I asked what the problem was. He looked worried and told me that if he didn’t get a bus to fly, he’d fail. He had promised his teacher that he’d create a video, and part of that video featured a bus taking off and flying away. Could I help?

    I loved it. A kids so in love with his videomaking that he got himself into a bind over a special effect in a school project.

    We got it flying, and he passed… : )

    • Great stories, Chris. I

      Great stories, Chris. I remember being SO impressed with what you did at the Capital Children’s Museum – you absolutely brought the technology to life with your exhibits. Very cool place & times.

    • Boldly going

      Your comments say it all. It is about discovery, which gives rise to empowerment.

      Saddest thing is that the schools had it going on, and just didn’t value or support the enterprise.

      Here’s a few samples of student’s in learning overdrive:

      lego mindstorms —
      film fest —

      • More video projects

        It’s all rather fresh in my mind. I’ve spent the last year digitizing the museum’s collection of video taped project by kids.

        CCM Media Arts Collection 

        is the full list of what I’ve put up at the Internet Archive. If you have some time and want to see some work by very young kids, watch Space Dog and Space Kid (age 5) and The Story of Rosa Parks (age 3). There are interviews with Chuck Jones and Joe Barbera, student projects by kids of all ages and backgrounds, and even projects by me (Paper Dance) and other staff.

        I still have more to go. The above were on 3/4″ U-Matic tapes. My next pile is all the VHS work.

        In doing this, I’ve tried to track down the kids who made these and see what they are doing now. Many have gone on to become professional animators, artists, or media folk. I’ve found them working on Broadway, at Warner Bros, Rhythym & Hues, and running their own businesses. A few I’m still trying to find.

        I used to tell visiting teachers that would could use animation to teach anything. There’s the science of optics and light, the math of knowing how many frames are needed, the art of creating backgrounds and characters, plus the writing skills to create a story, and research into the subject matter of the story.

        I don’t think a standardized test score would have helped me or a student with any of this.

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