I teach for the users. Opinions are mine; content is ours.
Writing Project Site
This #dlday, the author of one of my favorite projects is absent. I'm going to attempt to describe her work and then offer my own commentary on it. Once she returns, I'll ask her to add anything she'd like to this post.
Not too long ago, my students and I negotiated new learning plans. Most kids set up time to read, write, and work on projects each week. Some students negotiated short-term plans rather than container plans; they're at work finishing very particular and long-lived projects, like building a Minecraft controller and developing an Instructable on the process.
Right before EduCon 2.5, Laura Hilliger facilitated a hack jam hosted in Drexel University's ExCITe Center (where - you should know - they are making future clothes, among other things). I very much appreciated the way Laura drew our attention not only to the task at hand - creating hacks with Mozilla's Thimble Webmaker tool- but also to the way she facilitated the session.
Many of us who were in attendance want to host hack jams and similar make/hack/play events in the future, so I am thankful to Laura for her decision to teach us the how she teaches. To introduce ourselves, Laura asked us
There’s really no better way to silence us teachers (apart from the crippling, self-imposed professional norm of not admitting to our students and parents that have an opinion on anything) than to give us thousands of standards.
When a teacher is busy delivering content and designing lessons to appease political appointees, there is precious little time to reflect either on personal practice or the state of the profession.
Whereas other professional bodies use standards to create an open space for divergent, but successful practices in identifying and solving problems by working from ambiguity to certainty, education uses standards to close and delimit possible teacher and student behaviors in learning spaces so that we begin with a routinely unexamined assumption of certainty – that all students exposed to all standards will pass the test.
2012's #MozFest began a conversation about schooling that I hope continues over the course of the next year. I hope that in our care and commitment to raising a generation of webmakers who write the world, we increase kids’ access to writable experiences inside school, as well as outside school.
While it’s mostly true that to a teacher every problem looks like a school, it’s worth noting that 81.5 million children are enrolled in schools in the United States alone. These kids are spending massive amounts of time inside a system that works to sort, punish, and colonize them through acculturation to external rewards and a kind of grade- and score-based gratification that, if not instant, is largely disposable.