So there’s lots congealing in this post, which, btw, is one reason I’m sure is going to exhibit some of the thin thinking that I described earlier. For one, we’re seriously looking at options for our kids’ education, one of them being a nearby Waldorf School. Two, I’m reading Sir Ken Robinson’s excellent new book “The Element“, and third, I had lunch with my former partner in crime at my old school Rob Mancabelli who usually pushes my thinking on all things technology and world related. There’s actually a fourth component to this and that is the continual struggle I’ve watched over the years for some teachers trying to dip a toe in these Web waters. In short, all of it’s got me thinking about how Web 2.0 technologies cater to a certain group of abilities or intelligences more than others, and it’s got me wondering about the consequences.
Rob started it as he talked about the difficulty of trying to apply Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to these tools. We started talking about kids who might be primarily bodily or logical or naturalistic learners and where they fit into all of this. And it got me started thinking (once again) how blogging caters to those who can write and who feel confident in they way they express myself. I know for a fact that one very well known educational consultant who speaks about these shifts doesn’t have much of a 2.0 footprint because he/she simply abhors writing, and I’m sure there are millions of folks for whom blogging or wiki-ing or all these other tools will be a struggle. If you believe Gardner, and I know there are skeptics, you’ll do fine here if you are highly verbal and interpersonal; I know the verbal part is why I love this so much. If not, it’s a much harder road.
The Waldorf School that we are looking at seems to look at kids as individuals and treats the curriculum as a journey not a deliverable. Sure, the rhetoric gets a bit crunchy at times, even for me, but I can’t deny that it has a strong appeal for me, especially in the context of the conversations I’ve been having the last seven years. But here’s is the irony: the school uses very little technology. That undoubtedly will play into any decision we make, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. My kids have lots of access at home, and I know they’ll love having me mentor them if it comes to that. (Really. I mean it.)
And I love this little twist from Sir Ken’s book: It’s not “how intelligent are you?” as much as it’s “how are you intelligent?” He talks about “The Element” as being at the intersection of “unique personal aptitude combined with a deep passion and commitment” (46). It’s a wonderful place to be, I can tell you. And I want it desperately for my kids and for other people’s kids too, because I believe with Sir Ken that if we don’t help our kids find that space as they grow into their adult lives, especially today with the complex problems that face us, we are all going to be worse off.
So I’m wondering through all of this what role social technologies have for those who may not have the aptitudes to tap into their potential. And what do we do about that? Whether we think this new learning landscape online is a good thing or not, the reality is that it’s not going away, and that having the skills to make the most of the opportunities here are only going to become more and more important. But how do we make that happen for those who don’t find the entry point as easy as most of you reading this have found it?
Lots of questions, I know. Not a lot of clear answers. This truly is one of those testing posts.
None of this is anything new by the way; others have been pounding me over the head with it for years. And I have listened, but not as deeply as I could have. But what’s different now is this long, hard look I’m taking at my own kids, trying to help them find their passions or introduce them to classrooms or pedagogies where that might happen. Where they can actually do the problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration that are not new ideas but have been neglected for so long by this ridiculous regime of testing that we’ve had that I think we feel the need to repackage them under the guise of “21st Century Skills.”
If any of this makes sense, would love as always to hear your take…