Media Literacy Week – Gender & Media (Nov 1-5)

The theme for Media Literacy Week 2010, Gender and Media, encourages adults to explore with young people the issues related to gender representation – body image, stereotyping, sexualisation, roles and relationships – as well as how media can be used to provide more realistic and empowering role models for youth.

This coming week (Nov 1-5) is Media Awareness Week. The theme, as described in the excerpt above, is gender and media. This is a great topic to teach about analyzing & evaluating information, ethical and appropriate use, democracy and empowerment of all individuals. There are many resources online to help teach about these issues, starting with the Media Week site. Media Week is sponsored by many organizations, most notably the Media Awareness Network and Canadian Teachers’ Federation. Manitoba Education is also a partner, among others. In my humble opinion, the topic of media (Internet, digital, whatever) literacy is one of the most important things all teachers should be addressing in our era of instant access to all sorts of information. I believe we need to model and teach these ideas, not just this week, but whenever we can.

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Teachers as Puppets?

The latest reminder that freedom of speech for teachers in K-12 is an illusion came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati on Oct. 21. In Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education of the Tipp City Exempted Village School District, the court ruled that teachers cannot make their own curricular decisions.

The latest court ruling couldn’t have come at a worse time. Reformers are demanding that teachers turn out students who can think critically. But if teachers are threatened with the loss of their jobs for trying to reach this goal by the use of new ideas, then who is going to want to teach?

The direction education seems to be heading (at least in the U.S. – although these things often find there way to the Great White North) the question asked in this excerpt “who is going to teach?” is a good one. Increasingly teachers are being forced into the role of technician. Just do as you are told! Don’t think for yourself, we know best! It seems like some people would be happy if teachers were robots – or puppets to their masters to those who know better! Yes, there must be accountability, teachers must serve their community and there are some lines that should not be crossed (hate, prejudice …), but let teachers, as professionals, do what they were hired for; to raise questions, to help students develop critical and creative thinking skills, to help their students learn. If teachers have their hands tied and have to simply recite a prepared lesson from a script, then the question again is: who would want to teach?

Whining & Complaining

Two problems with whining

The first is that it doesn’t work. You can whine about the government or your friends or your job or your family, but nothing will happen except that you’ll waste time.

Worse… far worse… is that whining is a reverse placebo. When you get good at whining, you start noticing evidence that makes your whining more true. So you amplify that and immerse yourself in it, thus creating more evidence, more stuff worth complaining about.

This quote is from Seth Godin’s blog, the entire post is here!

Have you ever whined or complained? I am sure you have, we all do. Seth raises a good point, how much time do we spend whining? Does it help? I guess it does sometime, as the saying goes “The squeeky wheel gets the grease”, however, most often we whine and complain just to do it. It serves no useful purpose. It is also contagious, one person does it, then another and another. Soon we are stressed, upset and very unhappy about everything. It makes our schools and workplaces a negative place to be. It is desirable to question, to critique, but the goal should be to make things better, to improve, to expand our learning. Imagine if the time spent whining was spent working for improvemnt and tolerance, what a world this would be.

Digital Footprints and the Teacher

We also talked about  how important it is to build a positive digital footprint, and how to help students build their digital footprint as well. As educators it is our responsibility to model appropriate digital behavior and teach our students proper netiquette so they can also have a positive digital footprint.

To view my presentation, check out my prezi.

via vestaltech.edublogs.org  (blog post: Professionalism in a Digital Age | Technology Chatter

A good post and presentation about digital footprints and our responsibilities as educators. Some good points are made. The question of ‘befriending’ students on Facebook seems to be contentious. Some say they do it, others do not. I personally would not, but then, I use Facebook to keep in touch with family only. Things might be different in higher ed than secondary school as well. To me, this is a personal decision, however, one must be always building a positive digital footprint and model this for our students, regardless of age.

Designing for Learning: Solutions for the “crisis in ed”

Assumption 1: The future of education is about learning not schooling.   

Assumption 2: Technology is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and that end is better learning.  

Assumption 3: The power of technology to advance learning depends on context of use.  

Now, our three aspirations.

Aspiration 1: We want to be disruptive in our work.  

Aspiration 2: We see our work as taking place on the edges.

Aspiration 3: We want to work with thinkers and doers, makers and movers beyond the “usual suspects.”

This is taken froma response to ‘Waiting for Superman’ on the web site “Startl.org”. It contains some interesting ideas applicable to education reform, not limited to the U.S. either. A good read.

Rules?

Rules have their place, but let’s not forget that they should serve us not enslave us. Peter Drucker warns us:

 

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

 

This excerpt is from a blog post (for the love of learning) from Joe Bower titled:  Rules! We don’t need no stinking rules!  (good title, by the way). In the post, Joe tells a little story to illustrate the statement above.

Joe makes some good points in this little anecdote. We tend to make rules & policies for everything, but not everything is black and white. They can be restrictive and sometimes arbitrary and silly! Often rules are knee-jerk reactions to a situation or a result of trying to deal with complicated situations in a simple way. This argument can be extended to filtering the Internet in schools, zero-tolerance policies, no cell phones in school, etc. I agree with Joe completely, rules should serve us, not bind us.

Try Doing Less?

Perhaps it’s worth considering an alternative. N-1. There are tons of things on your to do list, in your portfolio, on your desk. They clamor for attention and so perhaps you compromise things to get them all done. What would happen if you did one fewer thing? What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest? What if you repeated N-1 thinking until you found a breakthrough?

Seth Godin suggests that doing a little less might lead to doing more. He might be on to something here. My to do list is very long and I keep adding things of interest, but it gets so long it seems nothing gets done, or gets done in a less than spectacular manner. Maybe focusing on fewer things would help in accomplishing what remains in a better fashion. Just maybe I should try this. What about you?