The Teachers We Hate

Since I’m taking classroom management right now, I’m learning a lot about theorists and finding which theorists I associate with. While I’m not quite as humanist as Kohn, I’m pretty far on that side of the spectrum. However, I’ve noticed that many of the kids in my generation (90s-2000s) were raised by teachers who are an interesting mix. There are many older teachers who are strictly behaviorist for the most part, and then a mix of newer teachers who are all over the spectrum. I think as a child, I associated older teachers as being bad teachers because they couldn’t relate to the students as much, while some of the younger teachers were listening to our music and understood what the life of a student was like.

It might have been a little bit harder for some of the guys to hate this “bad teacher.”

However, after reading about Fred Jones and some of the other behaviorists, I’m realizing that I didn’t hate older teachers because of their age – I hated them because they were behaviorists. I don’t think that looking at a student and saying their name while they are talking addressing the underlying issue of the student talking in class – nor do I think moving their seat works. Yes, it stops the student from talking for that moment in time, but obviously if a student is talking to a friend, they probably aren’t paying attention to a thing that you, the teacher, is saying.

I realize that this is all personal preference, and there are many students who hate learning under humanists because there is less structure and emphasis on grades. I also realize that there can be some teachers who are behaviorists and are excellent and other teachers who are humanist and be terrible. What are some of the qualities of the teachers you hate?

True Life: I’m an expert Googler.

In language arts, there’s a great deal of (but really not enough) discussion on media literacy and the types of skills we need to be teaching students. Kids need problem-solving skills, and this and that and the other thing. The problem is the people who are creating these lists of skills that kids need to have done the research, but they haven’t lived the life of the digital native. I think kids need only three things to be able to do anything:

Passion to build greatness!

1) Passion

And when I say passion, I really mean the insatiable desire to learn something. A burning, unquenchable thirst to be great at a certain thing. Almost every digital native has the skills to be great at anything they want, but they lack the drive to get there. If teachers are successful in instilling the idea of being lifelong learners for kids, I think they’ve won half the battle.

2) Discernment

For lack of a better term. When a trained reader reads something online, he/she can easily tell whether the writer is reliable and trustworthy. Teachers don’t trust students to read articles on wikipedia and understand what is reliable and what isn’t. Unfortunately, instead of teaching students these skills, they tell them to search elsewhere for information.

In the right hands, Google is unstoppable.

3) Google

At USF, I work in a computer lounge dedicated to helping education students to learning technology skills for use in the classroom. Most of the questions people ask me are questions that I don’t have the answers to. However, I know how and where to find those answers, and I know how to do it quickly. I’m not an expert with technology, but I’m an expert Googler. There aren’t many questions the internet doesn’t have the answers to.

If a child is passionate enough to learn about topic X, and we provide the means to do so, they are capable of learning anything. This may not be outlined in the language arts  job description, but they are skills vital to student success, and it is our responsibility to teach them as such.

Link

Emerging Writers Festival – The Future of Writing

For my first post, I thought I’d write about something I saw on Twitter. The Emerging Writers Festival is having a discussion about what the future of writing will be, and I thought I’d chime in.

The future of writing is something that we’ve been discussing for a little while now, at least the future of writing as I see it. Since the dawn of Web 2.0, there have been fan-fiction and other remix-oriented websites where anyone can go and start posting their own versions of stories with favorite characters. Remix is the key word here, as I think that is where writing is headed. If you take a look at a site called Hit Record (www.hitrecord.org), you’ll find a space where all types of artists can collaborate on different types of work: film, literature, photography, and other types of digital media. It’s a project led by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it gives artists all over the world a chance to create content together. As Gordon-Levitt says, “Remix isn’t theft; it’s just how we work together.”

How can you not accept that invitation? Join Hit Record and start collaborating today!

This is part of the future of writing, this collaboration, this remixing. However, for this system to truly succeed, we need a few things to happen:

  1. All of the walls need to come down. If we apply this concept to writers, we need to start trusting complete strangers. It’s hard enough for me to post a story I’ve written on my fiction blog, but posting it in an open forum where anyone can change it as they see fit is another story all together.
  2. Ownership needs to evolve. On Hit Record, all production revenue is split 50/50 – half goes to the company, and the other half gets divided among all collaborators of the project, based on the percentage of work they contributed to the project. There isn’t a fight between who did more work, who deserves more money (at least not all the time), and who the work belongs to. There is a common understanding that the work belongs to everyone, and it is a joy to create something so beautiful. There is more pride in saying, “I contributed and worked as part of a team to create something amazing,” rather than saying, “Look what I made all by myself!”
  3. Will writing still be a career? Yes. Popular literature by Dean Koontz and Stephanie Meyer will always be available, as will future classics such as my beloved series by J.K. Rowling. And there will always be the artists, the Margaret Atwoods as I would say. However (and perhaps this is already happening today), the majority of writers will be people in other careers who just love to write. I actually think the majority of writers will be college students and young professionals who are at the forefront of digital content creation.

To me, the future of writing looks exciting. As a future language arts teacher, I plan on pointing my students in this direction because I believe that this is the future of writing, but also because the skills required to do these projects will help them in other areas of their lives. The global community is an enticing world for writers – let us see where it takes us.