If we meet them half-way will we both be nowhere…

I have always been accused of stooping down to my students. I prefer to think of it as extending a hand to help them to reach new heights. Everybody needs a hand to get up the ladder. I know some think they should make it on their own. If that is true then what are the rules for? Aren’t they a form of instruction, which hopefully help? If they are instructions then how do they actually instruct? If we don’t experience what they experience then how can we construct rules that they will understand?

I do a lot of research. If any of my students are reading this statement they are laughing right now. Some of them have a dedicated folder just for my emails. I take that as a compliment. At least they don’t just hit delete. The only student who ever asked me to take them off of the email list is one who is a colleague. So let’s figure that out, the only person who doesn’t want to learn more is an educator, hmmm, speaks volumes doesn’t it?  Why does the fear of someone else knowing more scare people who have supposedly dedicated their lives to the absorption and dispensing of knowledge? Where do they think it comes from, the ether?

If the students have no problem with this, then who is doing the evolving and who is doing the devolving?

“Whip it, whip it good.” – Devo

Studies show that we are constantly evolving, constantly changing to adapt to our environment. Even something as old as Darwin’s theories show that everything adapts and changes as needs demand it (except in Texas – see article below).

Article from the Chronicle of Higher Education – May 24, 2010


The standards will be used to decide which historical figures and events Texas’ 4.8 million public-school students will study in the next decade. The impact could reach far beyond the state’s borders, however, since Texas is one of the largest markets for textbooks, and national publishers often tailor their texts to the state’s standards. Some publishers note, however, that with digital publishing, they can more readily adapt texts to meet different states’ requirements. In California, a state senator has introduced a bill that would ensure that texts adopted there don’t contain Texas-inspired changes.

Among other things, the revisions in Texas raised questions about the separation of church and state and determined that the inaugural address of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, should be studied alongside Abraham Lincoln’s. The word “capitalism,” which some board members felt had negative connotations, was replaced with “free enterprise system.”

Cynthia Dunbar, a Republican board member from Richmond, set the tone for Friday’s meeting when she opened it with an invocation.

“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses,” she said

Another article speaks to the fact of the evolving child…


… cognitive neuroscience is no longer concerned merely with how the brain enables us to see a line, remember a word, or execute a calculation. In the field’s early stages, cognition meant the things that can be measured by intelligence tests. With few exceptions, emotional intelligence, relationships, and emotions themselves were not considered suitable objects for serious study. Those areas were left to the psychoanalysts to speculate about as best they could. By the 1990s, however, prominent scientists like Kagan, Antonio Damasio, Richard Davidson, Robert Sapolsky, and Stephen Suomi turned their attention in these once-disdained directions and began to see new crucial dimensions of brain and behavior.

All of this research suggests that the evolution of intelligence and mind is driven not just by things like making tools and remembering food locations, but also by the vital need to negotiate emotions and relationships in the course of achieving reproductive success. That need is of the essence of higher-brain function; it is where the bio-behavioral rubber meets the evolutionary road.

Secretary of Education – Arne Duncan

In the 21st century, schools can’t be throw-backs to the state of education fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago. The instructional content they provide, the learning experiences they offer, the teaching methods they employ, and the assessments they use, must all keep pace with this century.

In the 21st century, students must be fully engaged. This requires the use of technology tools and resources, involvement with interesting and relevant projects, and learning environments—including online environments—that are supportive and safe.

In the 21st century, educators must be given and be prepared to use technology tools; they must be collaborators in learning—constantly seeking knowledge and acquiring new skills along with their students.

Most young people can’t remember a time without the Internet. But right now, many students’ learning experiences in school don’t match the reality outside of school. We need to bridge this gap. We need to make school more relevant and engaging. We must make the on-demand, personalized tech applications that are part of students’ daily lives, a more strategic part of their academic lives.

If we fail to do this for all our students, we’ll fail to prepare them for the future that awaits them, and the skills the world will require of them.

What key technology trends can help us transform education? The first is mobility and accessibility: many kids today have access to information and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year on devices that are increasingly powerful and yet inexpensive. And, the number of kids with this access is increasing every day.

The second trend is the rise of digital content. Today, 60 percent of students report publishing their own material online. They, along with a growing number of teachers, are active producers—not just passive consumers—of digital content. And, digital content is not just user-generated. Much is professionally produced, and can be used to meet the needs of learners of all ages.

To support technological innovation in online learning, the president has proposed investing $500 million over ten years in an Online Skills Initiative designed to produce open and free high-quality courses that contribute to post-secondary access and success. These courses can and will be used by students, institutions and self-learners and will also be freely available to commercial firms.


Valid research…???

So if the students are adapting and changing to these new forms of communication and states aren’t what are we doing to at least make sure our children don’t fall prey to these changes? How do we make sure our children aren’t influenced by these standards? What can we do you ask?

Simple – here is a list:

Become involved in what your children are doing as far as learning is concerned

Require publishers of textbooks to go to eBooks – this will allow for diverse textbooks and not ones governed by the monetary restrictions of the printing press model

Make them cheaper by a good percentage

Require publishers use more engaging visuals to go along with more expansive texts

Buy an eReader for your child early – get both you and them use to it

If you can’t afford one get your school district to buy one or get a tax break for the one you did buy

Start a parents campaign to get one for every student in your school – you do it now for field trips and through those magazine/fruit cake sales

Get involved and get a better student/teacher/parent portal setup at your school

Subscribe to free magazines online for your child

Get off of Farmville and onto National Geographic

In short evolve… into a parent or teacher in the 21st century. Your children are!

How will this help our children?

Simple again. It will make them competitive in this new millennium. According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan our children need to become immersed in this new world in order to later compete in the business world. Other countries are heavily involved in make this jump. These countries will be our childrens’ competition for employment in this new job market. This new economy is not centered around nor limited to borders. It is a global marketplace. The concept of telecommuting goes beyond staying home in your ‘jamies. Now it is simply the way the world does business. One of my students’ wives is a major executive for a major company. She never goes into the office. All of her work is done from home via computer and phone. She sets up offices all around the country and globe all from her desk at home, video conferencing, email, conference calls – all done from home. Sound familiar?

What do you think is going to happen once GoogleTV goes live? Imagine access to all of YouTube’s videos from your home on a big screen. Think distance learning. How long before those videos are live feeds from classrooms? all using YouTube as the center host and delivery method. The technology is there and so is the bandwidth. They are just getting the pieces in place. It is always about monetization then deployment. If they can’t figure out how to make money at it they won’t deploy.

Why should we? Nobody helped us.

You should do this simply because never in the history of man has there been such a leap in technology that directly impacts your child’s future – maybe the advent of electricity in the home, or fire. But those are about it.

The world is on the precipice of a completely new age a new time of mass communication and business going faster than the speed of light. Bill Gates wrote a book called “Business @At The Speed of Thought”. That was in 2000 a full decade ago. That’s right – a decade, we only have 9 left BTW.

Evolve or Devolve?

These are our choices. It is moving so quickly today that, standing still for what ever reason or rationale we come up with, our children will be left behind – big time. If we do not help them evolve and move forward then we are causing them to fall behind and in today’ world not evolving is simply one step closer to becoming… Devo!