· 1920: Post World War I, Warren G. Harding runs a presidential campaign on the slogan of, “A Return to Normalcy”
· 2012: U of M student (never gets old hearing that) Ryan Said contemplates the “New Normalcy” that is the 21st century grade school learner.
[Yes…the two topics are not even close (or are they?) but “normalcy” is a fun word to use.]
There were two parts to class today. Both parts were great. The dynamic of the second part got me thinking. But first, a few lines on Part I.
I was with the Math cohort and our assigned librarian/media expert was Ms. Laurie Olmstead. Aside from the work we did, Laurie was a wealth of information on teaching practices in general. I learned a lot from her today. (Kristin, Jeff…keep this part of the class!)
Lakeza, Katherine, Katie, Pete, Mike, and I spent the full two-and-a-half hours working on our project. In the end we were pretty satisfied with our final product.
The biggest thing I took away from the project was ideas of the others in the group about how to present the material. Some of it I had thought about before, some of it I had not. All of us had pretty good ideas to contribute. Laurie tried to impress upon us the importance of having similar meetings once we get into our teaching careers. She said that, unfortunately, they are not that common, but to push for them. I can clearly see the value in this type of group lesson planning.
In part II of class we made podcasts. It was fun and not too difficult.
For any fans of The Dark Knight, check out my grand five-second podcast called, “Kill the Batman.” (July 20th is only a few days away!!)
Thinking a little bigger, both in this class and in the last class, I found in myself a “first impulse” that I will only describe as some kind of “anxiety” toward all of this technology.
Anyone agree? (I read I lot of the first blogs…I know you’re out there!)
I’m getting over the anxiety, but I won’t say it’s not there. I suspect many in our class feel the same way.
My conjecture on the reason behind this initial anxiety impulse is not that we (I) am opposed to technology, or even learning technology, but rather questioning if we will be able to master it and utilize it to the satisfaction of our future students.
I had no problem creating a blog last session. I had no issues making an mp3 and creating a podcast in the recent session. But it’s another demand on my teaching if I have to not only use this technology, but also really master it to do the best job I can for my students. Run a blog, create podcasts, utilize Google docs (and similar formats), utilize video technology…oh yeah, and grade regular papers, prepare lesson plans, deal with parents…the list goes on.
While technology clearly gives us more formats to educate more effectively, it also clearly places more demands on teachers.
What to do?
Well, I think the answer might be simple. Sink or swim. Get over ourselves and, “just do it” (Nike, 1988). [Note my clever use of APA format.]
Here is the New Normalcy: our students posses a different mindset about technology than we do. Learning and using new technology is a way of life for them. It is “normal.” Yes, they have to learn it just like we do, but they don’t view it as this radical new expectation. Again, they have a different mindset. We need to get it. We can stay on the outside looking in, or we can open the door and get in there with them.
Not saying it’s easy…
I think our recent reading from Willingham (2009) for Rachel’s class sums up part of the problem nicely:
“Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not designed for thinking. It’s designed to save you from having to think.” (pg. 3) [More APA just for fun…which is a joke…because APA is not fun.]
One of my recent favorite reads is a book called, What Makes the Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by David DiSalvo. (Click the link for an excerpt.) DiSalvo makes similar claims to Willingham. Our brain craves, above all else, and even to its own destruction, stability. Stability, stability, stability. Learning new things, especially when they possess large unknown quantities as technology seems to do, threatens the stability of the brain, thus our initial anxiety impulse (or at least mine).
Here’s the deal though, our students are not threatened by technology. It is not an unknown quantity to them.
Which leaves us with a decision…
Agree / disagree? Let’s have it!