We’ve enlisted the help of the Book Reaper to get our books back for the end of year stocktake. A little bit of horror goes a long way.
Well, we’re winding down at school with this week being the last in term 2. I’m thinking about all the things I’d like to explore in depth online, but at the same time, I’m hoping to enjoy interests that get shoved aside during the term.
It’s Sunday night and I thought I’d indulge in a light-hearted post, in anticipation of the term holidays. Here are two videos parodying the internet.
Web crash 2007 is a humorous parody of the causes and consequences of a major internet crash (which I can’t embed, unfortunately)
The IT Crowd is a favourite comedy show in our house. Here’s the episode when the IT guys manage to convince Jen that they’re handing over ‘The Internet’ to her.
The humour of these two videos rests in the mystery and awe which used to surround the internet. A little like how the old TV shows used to depict computers – either as robots or massive machines with flickering lights. I think that Web 2.0 technology is still viewed with varying degrees of mystery, although it’s usually not awe but a kind of negative or fearful reaction that is demonstrated. I suppose that it’s part of human nature to resist change, but I think that approaching something new with caution is a good thing, while criticising it without looking into it at all is not a good thing.
Here’s something that made me smile – the comedian, Louis CK, talks about how we take technology for granted.
As Louis CK says, ‘those were simpler times’ when we had little of the technological possibilities we have now. I think we’re all guilty of taking new technology for granted. I still remember the dial phone, and yes, the zeros took ages to come back. One of our phones had a dial that used to get stuck and you had to help it back. Bad luck if you wanted to phone in quickly to be first caller for something. There are so many things that have been developed since I was born, it’s embarrassing. My boys find it hard to believe that when I was their age there were no microwaves(at least not in my part of the world). Definitely no mobile phones. We used to think we were lucky that a friend worked for the telephone company and gave us a couple of phones so we could have them in different rooms. When I was in primary school, we were one of the first families in our circle of friends to have a remote control for the TV. Some people would say, why do you need a remote? Why can’t you just get up and change the channel? Who would say that now? I used to think that mobile phones were an unnecessary luxury, and now I have a fit if I’m out without my phone. How happy I was when I used an electric typewriter with a corrector ribbon! How frustrated I am when my webpage takes too long to load.
But, as Louis CK says, we’re quick to get frustrated with technology without giving a thought to how incredible it is. I think that’s human nature. We get used to new technologies so quickly, and we complain about what’s not working, but we don’t often extol the virtues of our machines. Are we basically negative in our perceptions and reactions?
It’s funny to read Top 30 failed technology predictions. Some of my favourites are:
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.
“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” — New York Times, 1936.
“Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical (sic) and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.” – Simon Newcomb; The Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk 18 months later.
“The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.” — Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time.
“The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.” -– Charlie Chaplin, actor, producer, director, and studio founder, 1916
“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” — Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.
“Home Taping Is Killing Music” — A 1980s campaign by the BPI, claiming that people recording music off the radio onto cassette would destroy the music industry.
“Television won’t last. It’s a flash in the pan.” — Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948.
Here’s a funny one:
“Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” — Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London.
It’s easy for us to laugh at these in retrospect, but what kinds of things are we saying today? I’m particularly interested in critical or sceptical things we say about technology in education. I’m hearing things like
- we have the intranet so we don’t need to ‘go out’
- mobile phones have no educational use and should be banned
- computer games are a waste of time and should be banned
- social networking, like Facebook, is a waste of time and has no educational value
- I do all my professional reading in peer-reviewed journals; why would I want to read blogs?
- Twitter is used by people to say superficial and unnecessary things
When we say these things we are making a major mistake, and that mistake is based on the fact that we are thinking in terms of our world, not the world of our students, and definitely not the world of the future. Currently in education there is a significant pull away from Web 2.0 technologies. We can’t stop these things by banning them or criticizing them. We can try to understand what draws our students into these applications. What motivates them to create online games, get involved in Second Life, join Flickr groups, write blogs – become engrossed in things outside of school in a way we didn’t think was possible in school. I think that we, as educators, should seriously think about what kind of world our students will be living in once they leave school. Whatever the answer to that is, it won’t be our world.
We should be interested in what young people are doing outside of school because it may help us understand how to engage them at school.
I haven’t written a post for 6 days. Too many things have been happening, and it would take too long to fill you all in. And besides, I’m tired.
So, for your enjoyment, I will share a fun blog, 1000 awesome things.
Here’s an example of the type of thing deemed awesome.
Celebrities tell you how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.
Some of the videos
There are more videos, and they’re all adorable.
Have a look through the site. There’s something for everyone. 1000 awesome things has won a 2009 Webby award.
With the recent public antipathy towards the font Comic Sans, I thought I’d share this video which made me laugh
If you’re still in the mood for a laugh, you may want to check out Hitler has Vista problems.
Well, it’s the end of the week, and it’s lucky I’m feeling so tired because I’m at the end of my tether as a result of ongoing, seemingly never-ending laptop problems, and so I’m past caring. After excruciatingly persistent and varied problems with my school notebook computer, my reading and online participation has been severely curtailed. And see, I’ve reverted to my defensive bombast, taking comfort in florid and meaningless hyperbole. At the end of the week, after doing the minimal homely duties, ie. dinner because, after all, we all have to eat, I’ve collapsed on the couch, and my brain has taken on the form of a failed blancmange (which, by the way, means white dish in French).
Eager to post to validate my existence, but unable to muster up anything of substance, I’m embedding the video, Simon’s cat. I’ve seen this before, but it still lifted the spirits. Hope you enjoy it, and I hope to rise from my ashes and make intelligent conversation some time soon.
By the way, Friday tie day – a friend of mine used to say it, and at her work, people used to celebrate the end of the week by going around and pulling out everyone’s ties. I think she worked with men predominantly. No comment.
Well, if you have, you’re not alone. Daniel Willingham on Britannica blog has a list of 10 famous people who left teaching to do great things. Not that they left teaching with the aim of becoming famous – you know what I mean; they left teaching and ended up doing great things. Still, I wonder if it’s worth leaving in case greatness follows? What I actually think is that amongst teachers there are some outstanding and extremely talented people.
Anyway, here’s the list of people (think about which one sounds a little like you):
The US president, John Adams; Alexander Graham Bell, who taught at a school for the deaf; Gail Borden who invented evaporated milk; the anti-slavery activist Levi Coffin; the American poet, Robert Frost; Andy Griffith of the Andy Griffith Show; the American president Lyndon B Johnson; the poet D H Lawrence; Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss (who was reportedly fired for, amongst other things, replacing Shakespeare with Spiderman comics); and Carter G Woodson, who was was an essential figure in bringing Black history academic credibility as well as popularity.
Why are there no women in this list? Are there no women who have left teaching and achieved greatness? Have we all stayed to instil greatness into our students?
Photo by Sakurako Kitsa
You’ve heard me talk about my elder son (Mr 18 yo). He was inspired to write his own 7 things, and I thought I’d reblog them here for some amusement.
By the way, he has inherited bombast and hyperbole from someone in the family, so don’t believe him when he says his parents made him learn piano. No parent can make a child study piano until they get their AMUS certificate.
1. When I was in pre-school, I was convinced I was not a human being. The reason? We were read an environmental-themed book which showed “human beings destroying animals’ habitats”. Logic: human beings practise deforestation, I have never even thought about deforesting anything, ergo I am not a human being.
2. In the past week, I have been eaten by lift doors over a dozen times and almost lost my manhood to a scaffolding pole at a church clean-up
3. Russians don’t have middle names but rather patronymics so my full name is Alexander Petrovich Sheko (which is to say, “Alexander Sheko, son of Peter”). However, when I was young, I decided to rebel against the patriarchal system (you’re welcome, ladies) and called myself AlexanderTatianovich (Alexander, son of Tania).
4. At the age of three (or so), I had nightmares about a dragon chasing me around the backyard. Not just any dragon: the St George dragon. And I don’t mean the generic ectothermic creature of legend, but the dragon on the St George Bank logo. (Ironic twist: Last year I briefly worked for a sales company representing St George Bank)
5. I sing bass but because I have never had proper singing training, my range depends on the temperature, time of day and how long I have been singing. Usually the lowest note I can reach is D below the stave but it can go up to F if I’ve strained my voice. I once sang an A below the stave.
6. My parents made me learn the piano. At various points in time, I despised it and hated them for not letting me quit. I now have an Associate Diploma in piano, am being paid to play for a school musical (Cabaret) and enjoy playing every single day. I consider it a great blessing and one of the most rewarding aspects of my life.
7. A fundamental element of Russian culture is forcing children who have barely learned to speak to commit to memory large portions of poetry and recite them in front of large groups of people. At some point in my childhood, it was decided that it would be a good for my education (despite the fact I spoke very little Russian) for me to participate in this cultural treat and I learned some verses of a poem to recite at the annual Russian Culture Day. Unfortunately, I was sent on stage with a girl (half my age and height) who recited her poetry first. It never occured to me to adjust the microphone stand and I could not understand why several dozen Russians were laughing raucously at my attempt to combine poetry recitation with limbo.
These 7 things were originally posted in his blog under the pseudonym of Phillip Sandwich.
by Tracy Workman
This video made me laugh; it’s very clever.
This is where I found this video. It’s created by a student, Tracy Workman.
The holiday period seems to be lightening me up at long last. Humour is slowly creeping back into my life. I found this video on The Britannica blog.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4zhi4rd3M&eurl=http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/12/santa-claus-the-britannica-blog-guide-to-careers/&feature=player_embedded]