Rip Van Winkle feels at home in our schools

Time magazine cover how to bring our schools out of the C20th century

Originally uploaded by tania.sheko

Here’s a dark little joke from an article featured in Time magazine in 2006 that may touch a sore spot in educators. The article is entitled How to bring our schools out of the C20th century.

Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at home on sofas, moving miniature athletes around on electronic screens. Older folk defy death and disability with metronomes in their chests and with hips made of metal and plastic. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls–every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. “This is a school,” he declares. “We used to have these back in 1906. Only now the blackboards are green.”

For all our technological advances, our new ways of communicating, how much have our schools really changed?

#9 Library related blogs

I have to apologize for my non-linear blogging techniques but hey, I’m a Web 2.0 kind of person.

Finally – my post on blogs in my RSS feeds. I put this off because I didn’t have anything earth-shattering to say. Still don’t. It’s pretty self-explanatory: you save library-related blogs into Bloglines (or other) and group them into folders, as I’ve mentioned in my earlier post. What I want to do is share one of the blogs with you – apologies for those who already read this blog. It’s Ripple effects (and it’s also in my blogroll) by Tony Ryan who used to be involved in all sorts of teaching in Brisbane and is now a consultant. I’ve come across some interesting things in Tony’s blog. One of these is a video which demonstrates the power of wikis in classroom learning and in a very simple, visual way. Here it is.

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Another video which really cracked me up I found in his list. It’s called Introducing the book. I don’t know about you, but I’m a technophobe. My first reaction to new technology is the primitive ‘run’ and ‘scream’. I can so relate to this video. I hope it will make you laugh.

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#11. Let’s face it …


Originally uploaded by tania.sheko

A little background … My older son was one of the last to ‘be allowed’ to use MSN, Facebook and MySpace. What am I saying? He was one of the last to ‘be allowed’ a gameboy, Nintendo, to watch The Simpsons, South Park, etc. Reflecting back on my reluctance to condone MSN, Facebook and MySpace, I have to admit amongst many other reasons, a distinct nervousness about this new way of socialising. True to every generation, I was afraid of change, and I wasn’t in control of this socialnetworking – I didn’t understand it at all. When you don’t understand something, you’re likely to be suspicious of it. Could even be paranoid about it.

Some time this year – I don’t remember why – I decided to ‘get’ Facebook. That weekend I don’t think I even came up for air. I was hooked. In a short time, I’d ‘found’ people I’d lost touch with and minutes later was communicating with them – my god-daughter in Sacramento, friends from Sydney we’d lost touch with – we had lived in Sydney for 13 years. Posted photo albums revealed young people we had known well as young children. I was able to see friends’ trips all over the world. I saw albums of weddings, christenings and other events.

The different levels of communication have proved interesting. When suddenly finding someone I knew but hadn’t seen for ages, and unsure of whether they wanted to reconnect, I was able to ‘poke’ them, leaving it up to them whether they wanted to communicate or not. Brief responses indicated a more distant willingness, whereas some responses were overwhelmingly positive and took the form of private emails. Writing on people’s walls is public with the knowledge of others being able to read everything. Very twitter-like is the initial few words that everyone adds which lets you know what they are doing or thinking or feeling in the last day or so. Sounds trite but sometimes I’m happy to be informed of things on the run – eg. if someone has passed an exam, got a new job, is sick, etc. You’re not expected to respond. It also means that you don’t have to email everyone separately with those little things.

Lastly, I have to admit, it’s addictive. If you’re the kind of person who has to check emails throughout the day (yes, it’s a little sad), then watch out – Facebook is worse because all your ‘friends’ are up there together and there’s so much going on at once.

Yes, I have changed my attitude to my sons’ participation with Facebook. I think it’s a good lesson, and one that can be translated to our experience as teachers/teacherlibrarians. If you don’t ‘do’ something, you won’t really know what it’s about. You’re more likely to be negative, suspicious, critical. But if you don’t keep up, not only could you alienate young people, you could miss out on a lot.

PS. Yes I do have a life. I also live in the real world.
I’d love to hear about others’ thoughts.

Shock reflection

Without warning a few minutes ago, I took one of those surprising memory trips that you’re not prepared for – the Proustian type – where something (smell, taste, tune) triggers a zooming back in time, recalling these experiences. But in this case it was a multiple zoom .  Reflecting about Web 2.0, and the alarming acceleration of technology in teaching and learning, I was transported backwards through all the stages of writing tools.

Some highlights (lowlights in some cases):

using dinosaur computers whilst translating German engineering content for a pneumatic tool company (memory: losing a whole day’s work regularly);

thinking that whiteboards were fantastic – no dust! (and then accidentally writing on the smartboards with normal marker with the whole class screaming in horror)

getting excited when I purchased an electric typewriter with a corrector ribbon!

getting red and black hands replacing a typewriter ribbon;

the excitement of my first ball-point pen;

slurping up ink from a bottle with my new fountain pen (and needing much blotting paper; remember the blue stain on the inside of the middle finger?)

(here’s a dinosaur:) starting off the day in grade 1 by drawing (or trying to draw) a perfect circle with chalk on a little blackboard and never being picked for display of most perfect circle.

And now for something completely irrelevant…

  1. Arezzo, Italy
  2. Ravenna, Italy
  3. Venice, Italy
  4. Blaubeuren, Germany
  5. Lausanne, Switzerland
  6. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  7. Jordanville, NY, USA
  8. Redding, CA, USA

Why have I put this cluster map in you ask? A colleague was telling me she wanted to insert a cluster map (not travel) as a widget but that it wiped out the other things in the right hand column. I just wanted to know how to put one in so I made a new post.

I visited these places soooo many years (decades) ago. I haven’t actually stepped out of the country for so long. Really, it’s time to go again..

10 habits of bloggers that win

Blogger Warning

Originally uploaded by LuChOeDu

I thought I’d share with you some tips for a good blog which are posted on the Cool Cat Teacher blog: Ten habits of bloggers that win

Which of these do you think are most important?

By the way, I’d love to hear from all of you out there – do you find blogging addictive/frustrating/waste of time/superficial/informative/social/all of the above? I’m looking forward to hearing from you…

Feed (#8 RSS)

Originally uploaded by tania.sheko

I’ve looked at both Bloglines and Google Reader, and I have to say that I’m a little confused about differences between them. To get a real feel for each of them, I’ve registered with both. I’ll give myself a bit of time figuring out features and maybe then I’ll decide which one suits me.
Folders are a must otherwise there’s an overwhelming list of subscriptions which makes me feel like screaming. There’s a good chance I’ll cut down my subscriptions after the initial eagerness to grab everything in sight.
Not sure if I’m going to like the fact that Bloglines doesn’t save posts that have been read.

More flickr practice

 I thought I’d try another image generator – Image Chef. I have to say, I really dislike the ‘frames’. I definitely won’t be using any of those.

Decided to go with a cinema sign. Some of these could look good printed out and hung up around the library, eg. road signs with book information or directions.

I’ve tried to centre this image but so far it hasn’t worked. I’ll try one last time and won’t know if it has worked until I save this. We’ll see.

Things haven’t changed (much)#21

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Watch this government career film from 1946. Yes, the librarian's world has become a different place, but some things never change. Do you recognise the young man with the wide-eyed, hopeful face, confident that the librarian will make his book magically appear. 

Notice that all the librarians are women but the administrator is a man. 

Have a look at 11 other library YouTube videos