Elasticity

I am reading a book by Victor Canto entitled Cocktail Economics-Discovering Investment Truths from Everyday Conversations. I came across these couple of lines that I keep coming back to in my head. I don’t know if I have an “oceanic issue” with my writing but I keep thinking about whether or not education and POB in particular are elastic enough to provide an appropriate 21st century education.

“By elasticity, I very simply mean the ability of an industry to adjust to economic shocks. An elastic industry shifts and alters and transforms when an economic “tsunami” envelops it, thereby helping to guarantee its own survival” (Canto 50).

What if instead it said “adjust to 21st century literacy shocks” and instead of economic “tsunami” it says “21st century literacy tsunami.” What are we doing district-wide to ensure we are shifting, altering, and transforming as opposed to being devastated by the 21st century literacy “tsunami.” In terms of acquiring technology, there is some promise as we hope to see more projectors and and finally a number of smartboards. As well we will have a district management system. The Kindergarten Center will finally have a computer lab. This is all based on the budget passing. Although I understand the tools are not the answer by themselves although how many classrooms have you seen that have 2 dusty Dells sitting there looking quite lonely?

What about best practice? The pursuit of understanding digital literacy (even though I am not exactly sire what this entails yet) and the tools associated with it, for me, is what it is about. Students of this generation are digital natives. Technology is a part of who they are. It is very disappointing to here people in our district say things like we need to coax parents to restrict computer access, kindergarten students don’t need computers, and technology is just a waste of time. We cannot be pushing the teaching of digital literacies out of the schools. Adults in our school should not be saying I am taking that Ipod away, we should be figuring out how to best incorporate that tool into our day.

We are at an interesting juncture at POB, a fight, as I see it, for 20th century vs. 21st century learning and teaching. Do we want to be a district that has good test scores but students who cannot think, synthesize, analyze, create, collaborate, and converse? Personally, if we have to live with the state exams, so be it (although they are not measuring what we want or expect from our students). But if the answer is a worksheet for homework that has 70 problems on it, I can’t be a part of that. If a student knows the first 10 and the next 60 are the same thing (with no rhyme or reason) what is the point? That a student persevered? This would seem to be quite inelastic.

I am hopeful. More teachers are attending conferences related to technology. There have been more informal conversations about the use of technology and its role in best practice. Wikis have been created, Google Docs is being used regularly, VoiceThreads have been used as lessons, and websites have been developed to build communities of learners. That seems elastic.

There is more to be done. Are we going to adapt and change or be smothered by the tsunami?

What do you think?

Canto, Victor A. Cocktail Economics-Discovering Investment Truths from Everyday Conversations. Upper Saddle River: Financial Times Press, 2007.

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