Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Well the debate is heating up.

Yesterday I had coffee with a few colleagues, and before the froth had time to settle, we were right into it. It being a passionate discussion about how new technology is lowering teaching standards, dumbing down academic outcomes, and wait for it, actually reducing people's intellectual capacity; especially young people's intellectual capacity.

My friend Brisley (not his real name) became highly agitated, almost belligerent. Completely out of character for him. He's usually a calm, intelligent, witty and articulate human being. Yet, there he was, going red in the face and blustering about modern technology ruining lives, and society as we know, and understand, it.

The discussion quickly moved into choppy water and suddenly all hands were on deck. These were fiery people with their swords drawn. Ready to slay the dragon, and restore peace to the world. Their world, that is. The world of order and predictability; the bedrock of the education empire. These fiery individuals have been programmed to protect the mighty kingdom, and with Henry the Fifth passion, protect it they would.

Never one to back away from a spirited debate, I jumped up, 'How good is this guys? A close encounter with the education police. It's our time! Finally we can get it out in the open and admit things that may have worked in the past, now need a bloody great overhaul. It's up to us to reshape the building blocks so they fit the future. Square isn't square anymore. Square is a cube with green-goo sides.'

Expressions had changed. Not surprising because these intelligent people just needed a little time to adjust. They're squares, changing into cubes. And they were ready.

Brisley was the first to speak, 'O.K. We get it. Now sit down and stop hogging the floor.' I sat. The hum of thirteen voices energised the room. 'I have to admit', Brisley continued, 'when I read a recent article about the death of teaching I was scared stiff. I love teaching; it's what I do best. If teachers become redundant, then I'm dead.' He laughed, 'Oh sure I can retrain and become a new age healer, or horse whisperer, but technically I'd be dead. Because I'd have no soul.'

Caroline patted Brisley's arm, 'Thanks Bris, but you're not alone. We're all scared stiff.'

'You needn't be', I said, 'We're great teachers because of our love for people. We make our students believe in themselves, and we show them how to reach their full potential. We have to use our skills to help people break down the walls. We have to help them put the sacred cows out to pasture, and remind them that neither, politics, religion or education can control their minds, because minds are fluid things that need to keep flowing towards the sea. It's important they know the sea of knowledge is limitless, and the best humans can do is to accept the fact there are no absolutes.' I paused. Sparkling eyes were watching me, 'If we have courage, our work won't be meaningless. And maybe for the first time in our lives, we can examine every concept, value and belief, and re-evaluate them in the light of ever expanding possibilities. Then we must change our teaching from the premise of 'Why? to Why not?'

SUGGESTION: Google green goo


Outreach cass said...

Oh brilliant. I love this discussion, it is repeated across communities like waves at the beach.
Without doubt teaching is not dead, we are however I feel giving credit to communication and how we can give greater depth and discussion to how we teach and who is teaching us, we have alot to learn.
Alas, even Henry VIII had these challenges against those who who were the only teachers of the day....the Catholic church. I for one thank him as I do to all the cyber teachers utilising a worldly classroom.

Leigh Blackall said...

Fantastic! This blog is going great guns. I've subscribed for more storied like these. Nice one Sue! I'm very impressed.