Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Facebook Was Invented 32,000 Years Ago

Thirty two thousand years ago, entranced by a dark hole in the ground, a group of ancient humans took a chance.  Filled with fear and exhilaration, they crawled down into the darkness away from the safety of the sun.  In the pitch black they moved, slowly finding their way until the narrow cave opened into a large chamber, the belly of Mother Earth.  What did that feel like? Did they think they had found the place where all life sprang forth?  I don't know.  What I do know is that they were inspired and awed by what they saw.  Because they returned, and in the light of their flickering torches, left the first Wall Post in the history of mankind.

Thirty millenia later we are still leaving our marks on a wall.  For many its Facebook, others Twitter, but it is still the same desire, the same need that drives us to leave our mark in the universe.

From caves to computer screens, our need to communicate has not changed.  We send great yelping radio waves into the night sky in the hope that we really are not the only ones in the universe.  Because if we were all alone in the dark, the truth of our isolation may be an idea that is too large to wrap our minds around.

There is a lot of talk about mobile classrooms and virtual learning and the great race to be on the front end of the digital revolution in education.  But are we losing sight of teaching students the skills of being creative people in the race to integrate technology?

Some have said that technology alone will save education.  Different programs, like One Laptop per Child, are sending computers around the world.  Google has launched satellites to connect these computers to a network.  Within six years real time voice translation will be possible during online conversations or even during face to face contact.

The whole world will be able to access the same information at the same time.  Communication will no longer be a road block.  Though I embrace technology and its use in the classroom as a powerful tool, how are we preparing students to work in a world where everyone has access to the same knowledge?  Is their an app for that?

If we are preparing our students to compete for a fixed body of knowledge then we are training them for obsolescence.

We have traded cave paints for iPads, cave walls for digital walls, have we also traded the magic of creating and expressing for the mindless regurgitation of collective knowledge?  Lets focus our conversations this new school year on teaching universal concepts and skills and then find the technology tools to help children express their thoughts instead of giving the kids the technology and expecting the technology to fix our problems.

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