A couple of vignettes from the road last week that I wanted to capture briefly. Both have had me thinking over this very enjoyable holiday weekend.
I often show FanFiction.net in my presentations as an example of passionate participation. I happen to know a couple of kids (here’s one) who do fanfic on a fairly regular basis, and every now and then I check in and dig around for some good stuff to read. It’s usually not too hard to find. Anyway, Tucker has been checking out the Percy Jackson stories fairly regularly since after the fifth time through the series, I think the books are finally starting to lose their luster. Some of the Fanfic stories he likes more than others, but the cool thing is that he’s been thinking of trying his hand at writing something himself. But at almost 11, he’s still a little nervous about putting something up there for everyone to see, regardless of his own anonymity in the process.
Last week when I told this story, a tech director raised her hand and said “You know, I think it’s interesting that your son is nervous about sharing his writing. Does he ever get nervous about his writing for school?” I thought for a second and said “Um, no…you know you’re right. He hardly thinks twice about that stuff.” She said “I’m guessing he’d be more motivated to work on his Percy Jackson story to make it good than he is his homework.” And ever since I’ve been wondering why we can’t instill a healthy nervousness every now and then into our writing process, now that we have these ready made audiences (or at least easily found audiences). All it would take is a willingness on our parts to let kids write about the things they truly love from time to time and connect that to an audience larger than the classroom. Shouldn’t be too hard these days…
The other story is less hopeful. At a collection of school leaders and IT people, one of the participants told the group that his school had bought a number of iPads for teachers and that they had scheduled a chunk of training on how to use them. Unfortunately for him, I had just read an exchange on Twitter where Gary Stager had made the point that I quickly made to the group: “You know, something like 1.3 million people have bought an iPad and I doubt any of them have gotten any “training” on how to use it.” The people in the room half chuckled, but one woman said “Our teachers won’t do anything with technology unless we give them training.”
We’ve done the same thing to our teachers that we’re doing to our kids, namely conditioned them to wait for direction on what to learn, how to learn it, and how to show they’ve learned it.