Sunday, November 17, 2013

EDUC 7718 Post #6 week 11

Do you agree that schools ought to prepare learners to succeed in the world as it is even if that may not be the world as it should be?    Should all students be prepared to use the standard dialect, wear the standard clothes, and adopt the standard behavior patterns when interviewing for jobs-- (even baby or house-sitting,) crafting the admissions essay, or interacting socially with the community? How important is fluency in the normative, even if that means learning a foreign language and a wearing a mask?    What are the implications of your stance on this issue?    Notice and name some positive and negative aspects. 

Let me preface this post with - "I hedge like a white student!" (Gee) I'll have to start listening to the South American kids at my school and see where they align.

As a middle class, protestant, white mom of a young adult male, of course I agree that schools ought to prepare learners to succeed in the world as it is now! My son, John works at Bagelman, a very busy deli. Although my son was an unmotivated student, he understands what is expected in order to be able to succeed in his job. True, this had to do with his upbringing, but it was supported by his suburban school environment. Much to his parents' chagrin, John understood exactly what it would take to succeed in college, but chose not to do it. He instead uses his skills as a valuable team player in a local bagel joint.

For all of his interviews at the food places he applied to, John showed up in a shirt and tie. He shook hands. He introduced himself and smiled. He highlighted his applicable experience in a simple resume. He was offered a job at all but one of the restaurants in a very slow economy. His current uniform is a "Bagelman" tee shirt and presentable shorts or pants/jeans, but he understood that he needed to play the "hiring game" in order to earn money and start working.

I interviewed for a bank job in the mid 1980's. I wore my navy blue, conservative "interview dress" and black pumps. A black woman, about my age, rode the elevator with me on the way out. She was wearing a navy outfit as well, new jeans and a matching denim jacket. I remember wondering, "Even if she has the same skills as me, she doesn't have a chance. You have to know the rules!"

In life, I have learned that in order to get what you want, you need to learn the rules, play by those rules, and then, from the inside, negotiate change. By my interpretation of the world, of course it makes sense for schools to teach fluency in our current culture. Historically, our work culture has changed over the decades. The way women were treated in offices in the 1960's is completely unacceptable today. Women had to play by "Good Old Boy" rules in order to get a foot in the door. Things are still not perfect, but they are exponentially better than they used to be. Clothing expectations have become more relaxed in many work environments. Use of technology has changed as more has become available. These changes were gradual, and supported by the evolving culture inside the various organizations.

Maybe playing by the white middle-class rules is fake, but it is not more or less authentic than the way football players act in the locker room or inner-city kids act in order to survive on the streets. When students come from a home background that is dissimilar to school or to work, learning all the rules can be a real challenge. The Common Core is only reinforcing "the rules." In order to be college and career ready, students will need to be literate in school-based computing, collaborating, written skills, and verbal skills.

As you have explored and worked with content creation tools (or other technology)  what assumptions and biases have you noticed?  What is built into the templates?    Are the online tutorials beginner user friendly or do they assume that all audience members know what is meant by click and drag, menu bar, open, privacy settings, post, etc. etc.    Can you make a list of words that have specialized meanings in the world of now, that they would not have had 30 years ago?   How does command of this vocabulary privilege some and cause others not to belong? 
Some content creation tools are easier than others. By far, Moodle is the most frustrating. My school system tried to encourage us to adopt it. The program only interfaces with certain platforms, and none of them are approved by my school system. I tried Schoology last week and it is less "robust" much more "user- friendly." All apps and computer programs assume some basic computer knowledge. There are universal symbols (writing instruments, the letter A underlined with a color, a numbered row of lines) that are common to almost every computer program/app.

Words: Google (the verb), bit, byte, gigabyte, drag and drop, WYSIWYG, friend (the verb), homepage, RAM, cloud, connected, Internet, intranet, online, address, URL, metadata, Smart phone, platform, text (the verb), application.

My father, a former math coordinator, picks up computer skills rather quickly. He had an early Apple PC. He is thinking about purchasing a tablet. My mother is still lost. What seems intuitive to me takes a few practice runs for her. She can now post publicly and privately on Facebook, and can she can text legibly. I applied for a library job at WCSU last month. I had to look up the acronyms that I needed to be familiar with in order to be qualified for the job. I was familiar with the skills, but not the language.

Students, I'm sure, feel lost in "education speak." I just attended the AASL conference and almost laughed out loud a few times when I heard the latest jargon. For SEED, I posted all of the library terms around the Media Center. A couple of students have noticed. It may be beneficial to also post common computer terms that we use for instruction, as well as online safety rules, especially if students want to pass a law giving them the option to change their identity in adulthood (Turkle.)

After finishing Alone Together, I asked my son, John (20), how he felt about his online life. John never owned a robot pet, just real pets. We limited Gameboy use because his personality changed when he played video games. He currently has his own Macbook and HDTV. His online life includes a Facebook account, posting his music on Spotify, listening to Pandora radio, and playing a couple of online interactive games. He also owns an iPhone with a limited data plan. He says he doesn't post much on Facebook. He mostly looks. He is happy to share his music. He doesn't worry about Copyright. Sometimes people pay him for an album, but he is content to have others listen to his songs for free. He leaves his cell phone in his work locker, and only checks it on breaks. He prefers face-to-face interaction to technology. There is hope for this world.

My medium: I blog this week because it was a crazy week. I started last Sunday and finished a week later. I had a lot to say - this is heavily edited - and could write another five pages. Nobody wants to read all that!

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I do want to read all that! Your work is thoughtful and insightful. I agree that in order to make change, we first have to have a place at the table or inside the door of the institution, but there is pain involved in wearing that mask, sometimes. I love your statement about the importance of the correct jargon Discourse we need ourselves and we need to empower those in our care with both the skills and the language.8