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Thursday, October 18, 2007
  It's not what we're teaching, it's HOW we are teaching!

Photo by athena.



Have you ever thought how sterile and alien an environment the average classroom is?

Have you every wondered what those students were doing with their laptops in your class?

Most of what we teach is not what we intended to teach, it is the things we do and say and the way we do and say them...

Michael Wesch has done it again, you may remember the brilliant YouTube video "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us" now he's posted on his blog a video on teaching and the Facebook generation. A Vision of Students Today can basically either be read as a list of facts and figures from a survey of students - "read as a list" very literally since it is both presented in the video and as a list on the blog.

This is sobering [the title of my post refers to an anti-drunkenness campaign on NZ TV - "it's not the drink, it's how we are drinking"] to think about. Do we really realise how out of touch the culture into which we are seeking to inculcate our students is from the "real world"?

Before several of you remind me that students [may] need to learn that culture, since ordered thought and book-like presentation are necessary [probably/maybe] to orderly and deep thinking, I'll note that I am seeking to teach, persuade students to read books, indeed one objection made by a colleague to a class I helped plan was that it would be too successful in getting students to read - they would read less in HIS class ;-0

More striking and visceral though, for me, was the opening of the video which sets the scene and poses the issue in an empty classroom! The environment in which we teach (onsite classes) is alien and sets up a model of information which is no longer true! Information is no longer scarce, no longer "out there", no longer even ordered and organised the same way. It is not what we teach, it is how we are teaching that is the problem!

What teaching in the 21st century needs is not "better/more use of technology" - though that would be nice, nor (surely people do not actually believe this!?) students who are "as well educated as we were", but simply new ways of doing and being. Many of our deep-rooted assumptions are enshrined in material forms, "class" rooms, whiteboards, "lecturers" and the like. So, what do we do to change how we are teaching?

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