Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The fight for communication and learning...

I believe the relationship between Turkle and Wesch is complicated but connected. My interpretation is that both value active communication and learning. I believe they could be allies or opponents in the discussion of new media and technology. They both are interested and invested in technology, they just see it in different light. Turkle understands that we are in a technological world but she doesn't want that world to take away from quality communication and connection. Wesch believes in the community of the current tech savvy world and he uses it in his classroom to facilitate active learning. I would argue that they both believe technology is a tool. Turkle may argue that less is more, whereas Wesch may say we have it, us it and learn from it.

Both articles were extremely informative and cultivate insightful conversation. First I will unpack my views and my understanding of Turkle and then I will do the same with Wesch. 

Turkle articulated beautifully what I have observed as a waitress and what I have observed as a teacher. THE PHONES NEVER LEAVE OUR HANDS. As a waitress and an early childhood major, I could not stand it when people went to dinner and never looked up from there technology. I'm sorry, if you have not spoke to your child all day, the last thing you need at the table is your phone. Children should NOT be watching videos during a meal, they should be engaged by their caregiver. I had families were the mother would tell me the order for everyone at the table because dad was on the phone, the teenager was listening to music, the school aged child was playing Angry Birds and the toddler was watching a tablet. Give Me a Break. TALK TO EACH OTHER. Turkle opened her article with "WE live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection." We may be connected with our 2,000 Facebook friends and our 1,000 Instagram follower, but what about our own families. As a teacher I have seen parents pick up and drop off while they are talking on the phone. There children excited to show them a new book we were reading in class or an new art project they completed. My students struggling to get there parents attention for 5 minutes. Slowly I observed the students not trying as hard to show off their work. The look of disappointment is overwhelmingly heart breaking. 

Turkle stresses in her writing the need for personal connection. She shares with us a boy who wanted to ask technology about dating advice and an elderly woman finding comfort in a robot seal! Turkle explains “Think of it as “I share, therefore I am.” We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings as we’re having them. We used to think, “I have a feeling; I want to make a call.” Now our impulse is, “I want to have a feeling; I need to send a text.”” If I have a feeling, I want a person to talk to. Yes, I do text my friends, but I am one of those rare people that would rather call and if you can grab and ice cream with me, you are truly the best. As anyone can sense from my personal stories I agree with Turkle's final statement “So I say, look up, look at one another, and let’s start the conversation.” What I found most helpful in her article is she offers solutions to our technology overdrive world. I hope we can all take some time to listen.

Wesch has a different focus, but like Turkle he understands the importance of community and learning from each other. When I was student teaching in a first grade classroom in Central Falls, I began rethinking my career choice. I was choosing to work in a system that does not support young learners. Let's sit in a seat for 5 hours of your day. Let's only have time for 10 minute recess. You all were too loud yesterday, so today we are having a silent lunch. We understand how important individualize lessons are but you have 30 students in your class. I'm sorry, are you kidding me?

My concerns for my profession were explained beautifully in Wesch's article, “consider the often-heard lament, “some students are just not cut out for school.” The statement passes without question or even a hint of protest, yet think about what the statement says when we replace “school” with what school should be all about: “learning.” Some students are just not cut out for learning? Nobody would dare make the statement. Learning is the hallmark of humanity... If our students are “not cut out for school”, perhaps we have made the mold too narrow or inflexible, or more likely, just not meaningful enough to inspire a student to fit in. That’s the significance problem.”

Wesch observed that students are not thinking critically because the goal is the grade, not the learning. He shares about his disgust for “What do we need to know for this test?” but he also understands that "such questions reflect the fact that, for many (students and teachers alike), education has become a relatively meaningless game of grades rather than an important and meaningful exploration of the world in which we live and co-create.” This is a complete and utter shame, that needs to change as soon as possible. Wesch says we need to be “focusing on the quality of learning, rather than the quality of teaching... I have increasingly focused less on simply trying to convey good information and more on inspiring good questions. It struck me that all learning begins with a good question, and if we are ultimately trying to create “active lifelong learners” with “critical thinking skills” and an ability to “think outside the box” it might be best to start by getting students to ask better questions.” Learning has to be meaningful, otherwise what is the point?

I believe that Turkle would agree that both adults and children need to "recognize their own importance in helping to shape the future of this increasingly global, interconnected society, the significance problem fades away. But simply telling them this narrative is not enough. The narrative must become pervasive in the learning environment.” Both Wesch and Turkle hope for a critically thinking population, who ask questions and facilitate answers. I would also argue that they would want a community that strives to learn more and help others be interested, as well as, invested in the world around them. 

I will close with something that I wish to remember is “My job becomes less about teaching, and more about encouraging students to join me on the quest.”

No comments:

Post a Comment