Saturday, September 20, 2014

A new world order: reflections on this week's readings

To those who yearn for "standards," such differences appear as evidence of distressing fragmentation of the social fabric (Cazden.)

I am going to date myself. I was born in 1964, months after John F. Kennedy was shot. My whole childhood was defined by the Cold War. I remember looking at photos from Vietnam in Time Magazine and watching 10-year-old footage of people running through barbed wire after the Berlin wall went up.
Modern technology in the classroom was a filmstrip projector. My age-mates still talk about the smell of the mimeograph machine, the copier's predecessor. If we saw moving pictures in the classroom, they came from an old fashioned movie projector, not a VCR.

I remember learning "basic" on the networked computers in high school. I created an endless loop that said, "My sister is a jerk." Yes, coding at its finest. My father was a math teacher, and we had access to a home computer long before most of my peers. It wasn't all that exciting. I could type and I could do simple programming. Whoopee.
The world has changed.
Kids are coding games. Anybody can "chat" with people around the world in real time. We can get almost any information we want instantaneously.... most of it for free. If we think of something we want to buy, we can hunt it down and purchase it without leaving our homes. In a moment of carelessness, we can lose our life savings.
I am so dependent on my connection and at the same time I hate it.
I can find out the weather or the time or the state of the world in an instant.
The flip side of that is that I have no time.
I have a busy mind and I love to know stuff. I spend way too many hours exploring the back-lit box at my fingertips. I hardly read anymore. I spend much less time sewing. I waste hour after hour playing solitaire or checking Facebook.

I am taking this sixth year program because I am recognizing my obsolescence. I understand technology. I use technology. I don't really embrace technology.
The New London Group's article, A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures, has me rattled.What is education for? I always imagined it was to give everyone a baseline - equal footing - in order to be productive, functioning citizens. We all learn to read and do basic mathematics, learn about human history and interaction, and get a grasp on our world through science. Those who get excited about certain topics learn more about them, and those who just want to get out into the world and work, have that opportunity.
Apparently, that is "Ford-ian" thinking, good for an industrial society.
...and we are beyond that.
Since the end of the Cold War, our society become much more money-driven. The new focus is the bottom line. We are working to teach students teamwork because the hierarchical nature of business has changed, but our corporate culture is downright "nightmarish" (Cazden.) Instead of learning to be cogs in a wheel, our students need to learn how to "speak up, negotiate, and engage in critical thinking." Not everyone is built for that kind of interaction. Where can they fit in? Is that honoring their kind of diversity? Or do we now cater to the loudest divergences?

 The new order "spells the definitive end of "the public"- that homogeneous imagined community of modern democratic nation states."(Cazden) Am I ready? Can I help my students be ready?

(Can the politicians call us "The American People" like we are all the same...?)

Cazden, C. Cope, B. Fariclough, N. Gee, J. et al. A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures.  Harvard Educational Review; Spring 1996; 66, 1; ProQuest Psychology Journals. pg. 60

1 comment:

  1. You are still a veritable youngster!
    The issues your pose are important ones. What is the role of schooling? Can there be an American dream in which the playing field is made level, and ability rather than home background would really count? Cue the musical background," Proud to be an American, God bless the USA." ?
    One might argue that decisions about "basic skills" are still driven by the needs of powerful corporations, Google and Facebook rather than Ford Motors. Game coding, effective negotiations in workplace teams, leaning in, creative thinking (about new products, and not so differently creative that it threatens the brand). Sounds pretty cog-like to me!

    10 print "My sister is a jerk."
    20 goto 10