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Fly Freer, Little Bird…

November 30, 2006

I’ve already mentioned how pleased I was that some of my pupils had set up their own wikis, but now one of them has surpassed even that accomplishment.

As part of their Higher English, I’ve been encouraging my class to read broadsheet newspapers… it is still the best way to improve your vocabulary, as Chris will no doubt attest. However, I’ve also been getting them to read a few blogs and online materials in an effort to give their reading more variety and also different perspectives. As part of this process, I told them about  Christian Long’s recent posts on think:lab regarding a 16-year old blogger who wanted a link on the site. It turned into a real Road to  Damascus moment for some of them in that they hadn’t realised that blogs were not just for old gits like me. Almost as an aside, I challenged my class to put their thoughts on what Web2.0 means to them on a blog. Well, one of them has come up trumps.

Sean, The Bassman, wrote an incredibly insightful response as a result of this, and this has been picked up by Christian at think:lab. He wrote that Sean’s post was:

…a wonderful series of reflections; one of the best layering of ideas I’ve heard in a while.

He also left a really supportive comment on the blog itself:

I’m giving a presentation next week at a larger conference, touching base on the Design of School 2.0 (you can imagine where this may lead, given your thoughts in this post). Your words (and the link to your post) will certainly be shared with my audience (school designers, educational leaders, etc.).

I’m absolutely delighted… over the moon even! And what I find truly impressive is the way this illustrates just how much the world has changed since I was at school. In my day (he says, adopting the tone of a croaky old man), I wrote an essay, handed it to the teacher, and waited to get it back. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t always read the essay myself before handing it in! What I wanted was the grade. It didn’t matter that the teacher had made constructive comments on the paper, all I wanted was the ‘A’, or ‘B’, or ‘C’… and even that was ignored when I realised that my friends had scored higher than me…

The world has changed, and the lines of communication have been redrawn. I wrote essays that didn’t make a single dent in the world’s consciousness – my pupil is writing essays that are being read and cited on a different continent… I wrote for an audience of one – my pupils are writing for the world…

You know, sometimes being a teacher really IS the best job in the world…

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2006 11:35 am

    Magic news about your pupil! I used to feel the best bit of my job was running the school newspaper (where young Ewan cut his teeth) because there was a wider audience for the pupils’ writing and layout skills. A family of show-offs, we are!

  2. December 1, 2006 11:45 pm

    Great title, Neil! While I sense that the little bird is your student, in some senses I think that in time the age equation will be partially reversed. Expertise will flow both ways. Desires to learn as well. The kids will give we teachers/adults the freedom to fly free as well what traditionally happens (and program the ‘VCR’-of-the-day clock,too?).

    You are to be commended for unleashing your students into a world where their ideas can be valued, evaluated, and if earned…respected. Sean’s comments were legit. He has promise in his thinking. And he deserves to get credit for making the world of ideas a little bit better. No hand-outs. No cute stickers of praise that say, ‘atta, boy’, but end there. No, Sean took up a real thinking/writing challenge, shared it globally, and received real feedback based on respect not sympathy. This is why it matters. And why the teacher comment world you shared (and I experienced, from both sides of the apple) is being challenged.

    If I were 16 and had this power of instant global participation (and a bit of common sense and the ability to craft intriguing ideas), I can’t imagine what that would have afforded me over time. Can you?

    So, kudos to you, my friend! Keep unleashing your kids and fueling their tanks. Remind them that the ‘adolescent’ echo chamber of IM’ing their lads or hanging out in some poorly designed BeBo or MySpace page has some value, but it is when they step into the deep waters of the 2.0 world, and really offer something valuable to the larger web community, that they can gain tremendous feedback in return. And begin to develop their ‘brand’ as well!

    And then the sky is really limitless…and we’ll all be better off for their accomplishments!

    Cheers,
    Christian

  3. December 2, 2006 12:57 pm

    Thanks to you both for your kind words… the real trick is to keep it going and get more pupils to become involved. Fortunately, having a real life example like Sean makes that task easier. There are a number of my pupils who are more interested in blogging as a result, though I’d count myself extremely blessed if I were to find another pupil who could put a case even half as well as Sean did… then again, I know I’ll be surprised!

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