As regular readers are aware, I’ve ‘divested’ myself of some stuff recently, including a couple of domain names. The legendary Dave Stacey will be taking over elearnr.org, the space I used in my previous position as E-Learning Staff Tutor to provide ‘e-learning links, resources and guides’.
Whilst Dave has indicated a desire to keep the existing content, I didn’t want him to feel restricted. I’ve imported, therefore, all of the content that was at elearnr.org to this blog.
Image based on an original (under CC-license) by mikebaird @ Flickr
The aim of this week was to ‘divest’ myself of unnecessary things. It wasn’t so much a move to live more cheaply or simply, but to establish a flow. Let me explain.
Take, for example, books. I tend to buy quite a few, usually when I see them on offer or at a second-hand bookshop. I’ve a huge number of books I’m yet to read, but what of those that I have read and don’t love enough to buy in hardback? Previously, the languished on my shelves, taking up space just in case I ever wanted to read them again.
Now I’ve got a flow. Books come in as they did before. Those that I love are bought in hardback. But those that previously languished now move on. To be sure, there will some that I’ll re-buy. But that’s worth freeing up a large amount of space for!
Now that we’re back in Northumberland I’m closer to Barter Books in Alnwick. They have a ‘two carrier bag per week’ limit on taking books for which you can gain credit. I took about half of the ones I want to get rid of the other day and managed to gain enough credit to get a rather nice three-volume boxed set of the Domesday Book (yes, that one – I’m a History teacher!)
I’ve kept about 15 DVDs. Most of those I haven’t seen, with only a few that I’m likely to want to keep on watching on a regular basis – North By Northwest, Monty Python & The Holy Grail to name buy two. I’ve decided to get rid of all of my CDs. Even the limited edition ones. The future is in services such as Spotify almost every track under the sun to wireless devices. I shall be investing the proceeds of my CD collection in buying a year’s Premium membership of Spotify.
I’m delighted that I’m now running almost all Open Source and free software on my Macbook Pro – I’ve no pirated stuff on there at all. I’m not checking email for the first hour after waking up and not looking at screens for the hour before sleeping. That’s going quite well. The expected revolt over my change in blog design hasn’t happened, thankfully. 🙂
Last but not least is the small matter of the competition winners of the domains http://edte.ch and http://elearnr.org. I’ll no doubt get accused of bias, especially given Richie Laurence’s impressive entry, but I’ve decided to go for the following:
edte.ch – Tom Barrett
elearnr.org – Dave Stacey
Why? Because I know the domains will be used in a fantastic way. Whilst I was very tempted to name Richie as the winner of edte.ch, Tom’s been talking about moving his site away from Edublogs for so long that I thought he needed some stimulus to do so! 😉
Many thanks to those who entered and for the kind comments about the existing content at http://elearnr.org. Additional thanks to those who have joined me on my journey this week. That word – ‘journey’ – is used all too often these days to make things sound more interesting than they are. Perhaps that’s the case here! But for me, this has been a truly important week in my life. A time when decisions were made, stuck to and carried through to their logical conclusion.
When anyone asks me, students included, why on earth I became a teacher, I tell them the truth. “I became a teacher to change the system.” That’s why I’m always interested in discussing and debating the future of education. This morning, Dave Stacey, someone I am proud to call a fellow History teacher and UK edublogger, asked some questions:
Why is it that all our pupils do the same courses at the same time, with people who happen to have been born between the same two Septembers as them?
Why is it that school starts and finishes at the same time for everyone?
Why is it that lessons last an hour, and then we all move round again?
Why is it that for all our talk about understanding multiple intelligences, 95% of learning and assessment is written?
Why is it that we try to manage the complicated business of learning by increasing the number of ever tiny boxes to be ticked?
Why is it that at the end of the day, it’s the teachers who leave exhausted?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘because we’ve always done it like that’ then you’re missing the point
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘that’s how it works’ then you’re not seeing the bigger picture.
We (you and me) are failing thousands of people every single day we perpetuate the myth that is the education system.
I don’t have the answers. But I have some questions, and I think that’s a good start.
Now I don’t think young David really wants answer such as “in the 19th century when the education system was set up, children were needed to gather in the harvest, therefore the school year began when after this had been done.” No no no. :p
What Dave’s getting at is that sometimes you’ve got to completely redesign a system from the ground up. It’s at this point I’d like you very much to watch two videos:
If you haven’t got time to watch the above (you really should find some!) or don’t understand what I’m trying to get at, let me make it explicit: we’re in a period of immense social change (1st video clip). This means we’re re-writing the rules as we go along. Unfortunately, to get to where we need to be, evolution isn’t an option (2nd video clip) – we need to start over to make things better.
I’m not sure I agree with Dave’s implication that learners should leave school ‘exhausted’, but I’m with him all the way on finding it bizarre that in an increasingly multimedia society, we insist on assessments to be done in a written format. We need to be responding to the needs of 21st century learners who will live in a 21st century global society. Miguel Guhlin linked to the following diagram by Scott McLeod today. It’s worth looking at these things, especially when in the throes of the daily grind:
Dave writes, “We (you and me) are failing thousands of people every single day we perpetuate the myth that is the education system.” I agree. And it’s the reason, I believe, why many teachers who could and should change the education system end up as consultants or leave the profession due to sheer frustration. I, for one, am not ‘walking the walk’ as I should be. Thanks for the wake-up call, Dave! 🙂
As Dave Stacey has already said, I think by now every educator worth his or her salt has seen the excellent TED Talks video where Sir Ken Robinson talks about creativity. If not, click here post haste and watch it!
Sir Ken recently agreed to be interviewed by the pupil-powered Radiowaves about creativity in education. It’s certainly worth watching/listening to: