Power of an idea — from the ASIDE blog

This paragraph got my attention this morning. If you aren’t a regular reader of the ASIDE blog, do subscribe.

We can talk all we want about “genius hours” and “authentic learning,” but unless the current evaluative system for schools, teachers, and students changes, it’s a moot point. The pendulum has swung so far away from the block areas and free play in kindergartens and toward learning “centers” that we are losing that inventive spirit in kids. They are less creative to think of ideas, and they constantly look for instruction on what to do next. Oddly enough, the successful and highly educated adults who try to initiate reform, who participate in open discussions on social media, and who publish commentary did not go through the school-testing mania, and they’re okay. So how did education get so off track? If we want kids to dream BIG, we need to let them.

via Innovation Design In Education – ASIDE.

The world without WiFi

HT to @drspikecook

The video below is pretty humorous, but also sadly true. Couple the video with research from Timothy Wilson about how some people are uncomfortable being disconnected from their devices, “forced” to rely only on their imagination and thoughts. Even more alarming is, “In a follow up experiment, it became disturbingly clear that many people will engage in self-destructive behavior to avoid a numbing solitude. When placed in a room with a machine that delivered a moderate electric shock, most people preferred to give themselves a jolt of painful electricity than entertain their own imagination.”

I appreciate what I learn from my digital devices and connections, but it is a good reminder for me to explore and enjoy what is going on in my own mind.

The “in real life” fetish

Image from Flickr user Strellevik

Image from Flickr user Strellevik

If I didn’t Instagram it, did it really happen?

I’ve been reading a lot of Nathan Jurgenson’s posts the past couple weeks and this line really made me think.

While eating, defecating, or resting in our beds, we are rubbing on our glowing rectangles, seemingly lost within the infostream.

via The IRL Fetish – The New Inquiry.

I think about my own attention span and realize that when I do have a few minutes of down time, I choose to reach for my device and see what my friends and followers are doing. I’m hoping that they are all doing something interesting or at least have the creative ability to make the pedestrian seem poignant.

I often seek to fit into that “try to be interesting” crowd. I was fortunate to be able to spend the last 3+ weeks in Ireland and Norway on a family trip. Every venue I went to (beaches, rock formations, museums, restaurants, taverns, galleries) I was sure to take a photo and then carefully apply the appropriate digital filter to make the image interesting to those who would view it. Had this trip occurred 20 years ago and I was taking photos, I would have likely thought only about the memories I wanted to capture for myself. While the photos I currently take are great artifacts that document the experience I had with my wife and children, I too often find myself thinking about how many likes or shares I might get for these photos. I do enjoy looking at IRL scenarios with the eye of an artist, but am I doing it for contributing beauty to the world or just to feed my own ego by ticking up my Klout score? I’d like to think the former, but can’t argue persuasively against the latter. I enjoy the creative mental processes of finding an interesting subject to photograph, but it’s a fine line between that and simply participating in the “look at me” culture.

Beer photos and digital dualism; Principals are people too

PicMonkey Collage

I’m enjoying a great family trip to Ireland and Norway as I type this post, and am sharing photos with friends and family through my Instagram account. This is my 4th trip to Ireland, and I greatly enjoy the people, the scenery, the vacation mindset while I’m here, and the beer. As you browse through my photos you’ll see Irish scenery, photos of my wife and kids, and then the different beers I’m sampling on our trip.

Just like I’m picky about the beer I drink (you won’t see me drinking fizzy yellow beer), I’m also careful about how I represent myself on my social media accounts. I know that I have several current students who follow me on Instagram, have a few school parents as friends on Facebook, and my Twitter account is open for anyone to see. While I am entitled to a life as private individual when I’m not at work, I recognize that I don’t have a dual digital existence that excuses me from poor or questionable behavior in the digital world. Who I am in person is who I am online. There is no digital dualism for me.

You won’t see photos of me making a fool of myself at a tavern (thankful for the lack of digital photography and social media when I was an undergrad). You won’t see obscene language used by me in my social accounts. While I occasionally pay attention to the #beerporn Instagram tag, I don’t use that term myself. The worst you might see from me in my digital activity is a #twss tag. You won’t see me whining about or being unfairly critical of others. If I have a concern, need to vent, or share sensitive information, there are plenty of digital tools that allow that to be handled in a private manner.

One change that I’ve made in the past couple years with how I use my Instagram account occurred as the result of a good conversation with friend and doctoral cohort mate, Todd Norton. He noticed that I had photos of students from my school mixed in with some of my beer photos and asked if that ever caused concern for myself or others. There weren’t any concerns that I was aware of, but he made a good point. How might someone feel if they saw a picture of their child among my beer photos? If they know me well enough, there probably wouldn’t be any concern. However, I don’t know all of my school parents and I’d rather err on the side of caution for this issue. As we learned on Ghostbusters, don’t cross the streams. I deleted all my school photos from my IG feed and now use a Facebook pages account to share my school photos with my school community.

I know that this type of careful online behavior is common for educators, and this is done for a variety of reasons. Some people don’t want to share their private life online, some want to avoid situations that might jeopardize their employment, but most of us want to be good role models for our students and children.

How I behave online (in person too) models how I would like to see my own two kids represent themselves and use digital technology. Learn a lot. Have fun. Be helpful. Be respectful.

For other Principals are People Too posts, see these from…

For some additional reading about digital dualism and life in this very connected world, do check out the work of Nathan Jurgensen at Cyborgology.

Screenshot 2014-07-02 at 12.57.31