Sunday, 12 October 2008

Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt3.

Will talked about how we need to prepare kids to work with people from multiple cultures, whom they are never going to meet, in order to create things together. He explained how it is predicted that in 2 years time most Fortune 500 companies will have a presence in an immersive world e.g. World of Warcraft, Second Life, etc. He suggested that people could be "going to work" as an avatar having packed their "virtual lunchbox" for the day. (Having a major Otherland moment here). It is such an amazing thought and totally reinforces just what a different world our children could be living and working in.

Will asked "How do we prepare our kids to connect with people who share their passion and work together to effect change?" I love this idea of kids working together to make a difference in the world. I love the idea of working with others myself to make a difference. I think Erin and her class are already off to a great start with this via their Kiwis for Kenya project. Projects like this one show that it really is possible.

Sheryl made a comment that really resonated with me, "None of us is as good as all of us." I thought this was a really powerful statement. The idea that the more of us that work together, the greater the change we can effect is quite a sobering and yet optimistic thought. Sheryl talked about how, with this in mind we needed to ensure that we and the children did not just simply use the tools at our disposal, but use them in a way that allows us to move through Shirky's continuum to the point where we are able to take collective action.

Another thing Sheryl said that really hit home for me was, "You can't give away what you do not own." This is so true. She went on to say that teacher's NEED to own it. By this she means that we need to be comfortable moving in these networks and communities, in having connectivity in using and exploring the digital tools available to us. I agree that this is vital, after all how else can you know what you are talking about? How else can you ensure the children are fully prepared to take their place in the world?

Sheryl talked about how we are working outside our comfort zone, how we are in a messy place of change, but that we are preparing our kids for their future! Again this struck a chord. The question is, how do we get everyone else on board with this? How do we get the message out there? What about parents? Their idea of school is based on their own experiences, we need to consider how we can communicate the need for change and the types of change to them.

Will added at this point that there are lots of questions and lots of challenges. With this I whole heartedly agree. Sheryl added that as educators we need to decide together what matters. She discussed the importance of us becoming networked learners, of collaborating with like minded people. I couldn't agree more. In the past year alone I have benefited immensely in terms of my professional and personal growth thanks to the collaborative and supportive group of educators who make up my PLN.

Sheryl identified us as the last generation of teachers who have a a choice about whether or not to embrace this technology/participatory media. She said the children in our classrooms now do not have this choice. She went on to add that we have a moral responsibility to make the choice to embrace it. She explained that while some of our kids will get this at home, many of our lower decile children do not have this safety net. She referred to it as a "safety net for their future" and that the only place our at risk learners would get this is within the "safety net" of our classrooms, which is why it is absolutely vital that we make the choice to embrace the tools, to own them, so that we can do our kids justice.

She finished by saying that New Zealand teachers need to move to true collaboration and collective action. She challenged us to to "Do it for the children's sake, challenge the status quot". Finishing on that note I felt excited and energised. Everything I heard made a lot of sense to me. I found it powerful because it reaffirmed my thoughts and beliefs, as a keynote it reflected where I am at with my thinking, with my own personal tipping point. This is a challenge that I am ready to take up. But, is this the same for everyone? What about those teachers who aren't there yet? What can we do to get everyone heading in the same direction? I'd love to hear what others think, what is your perspective? What do you think?

So here you have it, a three part rewriting of my frantically typed notes as processed and reflected on by me. If anyone thinks I've missed something or perhaps missed a key idea, please feel free to let me know in the comments and I'll come back and edit. I got SO much out of this keynote that it's hard to do it justice. Thanks so much Sheryl and Will for making me think, ask questions and even dream a little. I can't wait to see where this train ends up.

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