Survival of the Fattest

Next year’s Town School budget does not include a position for someone to help elementary teachers, students, and staff with the various tasks and challenges involved with technology. 

Things like learning and running programs, exploring the web, taking and editing pictures, making slide shows, playlists, videos, virtual spaces, interactive stories, comic books, digital posters, blogs, navigating the cloud, connecting devices, and platforms etc..etc. These essentials of a well-rounded education are vanishing.

With testing so prevalent, the skills of media fluency, storytelling, and composition are not cultivated. They are considered expendable, and that’s unfortunate, to say the least. We perform as consumers of technology, as producers not so much

In a similar vein comes the question often heard about the skatepark debate: how many skaters are there in town?  Do people consider that for ten years, almost a whole generation of kids has been harassed, ticketed, scapegoated, strung out bureaucratically. And still, many do skate- but it takes a special kind of determination. Would the numbers not be higher if there was more recognition, support, or widespread encouragement?

In case anyone thinks these arguments are too specialized, let’s look at Democracy itself. When people are spied upon, threatened with the label of terrorist for expressing their beliefs, put in cages at rallies, pepper sprayed, told of indefinite detention, outspent by cartels..eventually, who but the most unbowed and relentless will freely exercise our constitutional rights to assembly and free speech.

This matter of who thrives is not a Darwinian equation. It’s not a market driven sum. If we chose an oppressive and corporate mindset for our worldview, if we justify our shortsightedness by flawed and myopic reasoning, we leave ourselves no choice but to accept the brutish bottom line as our daily reality.

Comments | 4

  • filling in circles and other random thoughts

    It seems oddly fitting that standardized tests in 2013 (measuring our greatness) are paper forms that require number two pencils to fill in little dots on circles for old optical scanners to tabulate. It is an important skill, I suppose. I fill in tiny circles each year to vote. Sometimes twice a year!

    The technological tools and educational frameworks to create more engaging and challenging tests are certainly available. Funding isn’t.

    Many people tolerate and support the world given to them by the Walmart, the Facebook, and the McDonalds. Fewer seem to like making things themselves, developing their own sites, or cooking their own meals.

    We’ve also stopped our cultural belief in leaving a better world for the next generation. It used to be a common refrain. It made my parents generation very comfortable and successful. Now it is the exception, and seems more desperate than ever before.

    When I taught animation, I used to tell educators that we could teach anything by making an animated film. There’s the math of how many frames to use for an action, the science of light and optics, the writing of a story, the drawing of scenes and characters, and so on. Research had to be done to tell a story. A successful animated project could show proficiency in many areas (plus get shown on TV and shared with others), and it was a fun, very involved project for kids to undertake.

  • A timeline is not about time

    I’m starting to doubt that the wake-up calls we see on this site, and similar ones, have any effect. These days, people seem to be too numb, or insulated, or overcome to care. Or they defer to authorities, as that’s so much easier than an informed scrutiny.

    What I fear most in the examples I provided in my story is loss of context. That’s what allows despots to rise, and what students lose when the educational model is so self-referential. As an anecdote to illustrate my point, I present this pop quiz I gave during a lesson to a sixth grade class one day last year. Not a single student got this right!!

    Place the following events in chronological order from first to last.

    -The Civil War
    -Invention of the Printing Press
    -World War I

  • Augmented Reality Technology

    With the advent of Google’s “Glass” technology ( ), it’s possible (likely) past history will become increasingly remote to upcoming generations. Because of tech’s rapid advances history will made in real time. The intense integration of data, knowledge and awareness technologies with human consciousness will lock us into a forward-looking present that will have very little time to look back.

    The new Google glasses seem to be more intuitive, not interactive. When you look at the sky, the current weather pops up; when you look at a bus terminal, the bus schedules pop up.

    Will Google’s augmented reality technology be as much a part of the “disconnect” as it is part of the “connect?”

    Project Glass: Live Demo At Google I/O:

    • Enhanced Reality

      Making something Idiot-Proof used to mean: Easy to use. We’re rapidly moving towards a new definition: Accepted without question.

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