Posts Tagged ‘change’

“Unlearning.” That word by itself kinda hurts my brain. Isn’t that the opposite of what we want? Don’t we want to grow? Isn’t the way to grow to expand, to intake, to gain? Well, yeah, of course, buuuuuut…

A lot of people, educators and learners alike, live by the doctrine of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

That’s a problem.

Bindaas Madhavi Photo CC-by Bindaas Madhavi

“Unlearning”

Will Richardson’s article about “unlearning” mostly deals with throwing out old misconceptions or outdated methods of thinking, particularly in classroom settings. Verbatim, Richardson claims “it’s simply learning to see things differently or to at least be open to it.” I’m going to kick this section off with the last of Richardson’s claims, and say that the most important thing that needs “unlearned” is that real change can happen just by thinking it into practice. This is not a thing. Action needs to happen for change to happen.

Unlearning simply means re-evaluating old concepts, and being open to new ones. In education, this is probably the most vital piece of advice that can be given. Too many times I was at the mercy of teachers who utilized tired-out techniques they learned in school, and were unwilling to budge in any way, shape, or form. Each person learns differently. Each person has different passions. In order to harness all of this potential, flexibility needs to be a key factor.

This semester, I’ve unlearned quite a few things. I’ve unlearned that no one is making a charge to reform education. I’ve unlearned that social media is useless for anything besides cat videos. I’ve unlearned that blog posts are useless, because there are people somewhere out there paying attention. I still have a ways to go, though. I need to unlearn that most authority figures are pompous assholes who have no intelligence or empathy. I need to unlearn some of my cynicism and be a little more willing to believe in the good in humanity. I’ll get back to you when this happens.

Don’t hold your breath.

Thomas Hawk Photo CC-by Thomas Hawk

Innovation

In George Couros’s look into the mind of an innovator, he writes himself a mission statement:
“I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.  With this empathetic approach, I will create and design learning experiences with that question as a starting point.”

As an educator, Couros wants to focus on new ideas. He wants to focus on open-mindedness, much like Richardson, and above all else, he wants to focus on what’s best for learners. For educators, this involves quite a bit of humility and searching.

It means acknowledging that even if you are an expert in your field, you don’t know everything there is to know. It means acknowledging students as people and accepting the fact that they have things to teach you as well. It means figuring out how to work with each individual learning style, and doing your best to realize that teaching a group en-mass using the same technique is a busted-ass idea from the get-go. Couros understands that these things mean going out on a limb, upsetting an established status quo and taking risks for a reward that involves maximizing learning output for students.

Couros also heavily endorses technology as a medium for learning. He claims innovators can do their best by connecting to others globally, gathering , comparing, and discussing ideas from all perspectives. That being said, Couros also claims we no longer need to throw the title of “digital” on everything: literacy, storytelling, learning, etc. It’s now all implied. Learning is changing. It all ties back together in the fact that we need to “unlearn” the traditions of old in favor of innovating. As I said, learning is changing.

I’m not sure I’ve done much in the way of innovation this semester. If anything, I’ve played it close to the chest and stuck with what I know. Same routines, same attitudes, same techniques.. because they work. And because I’m afraid of change. Soon I won’t have the crutch of academia as an excuse anymore, and we’ll see what kind of innovator I really am.

Yikes.

Novus

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In previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how anonymity and the Internet turns people into shits, how groups ranging from ISIS to Anonymous utilize social media accounts, and how hiding behind computer screens creates monsters of people.

Now, allow me to elaborate, and also possibly contradict myself in every imaginable way.

bradhoc Photo CC- by bradhoc, “Activism” pre-Twitter era

Digital Activism

No longer are we restricted to an age where activism consists of picket signs and marches at colleges where you will most likely be shot – though it is still alive and well (the Guy Fawkes mask is still worn by protesters and members of Anonymous). This is the digital era, where everything can, and will, be digitized, uploaded, downloaded, mainstreamed, outsourced, and pre-installed. Grassroots campaigns are being booted up via Facebook groups. Kickstarter, GoFundMe and indiegogo campaigns are funding people’s dreams, visions, creations, and movements. People standing on streetcorners with bullhorns is out. Active tweeting is in.

More and more movements, revolutions, voices are being forged via digital connections. The Internet eliminates the geographical, and sometimes political, bounds that people have when trying to find like-minded people to instigate change. In a list of 6 activist functions of technology, the list goes like this: Shaping public opinion, planning action, protecting activists, calling to action, taking digital action, and transferring resources. The list is extremely comprehensive, and any number of mediums are involved: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. People with a cause have a network. Mobile devices, even in repressive countries (with a little know-how) allow infinite connectivity to other people. Technology is changing the face of revolution.

However, nearly all of these have another side to the coin. The same anonymity that protects activists from harm and death threats, also hides cowards, trolls, and attackers. Calls to action can be made for any cause, only relatively recently were ISIS pages taken down from social media sites. News stories are broken nearly every day of recruits added to terrorist ranks because of connectivity to other countries. Public opinion can be shaped and influenced for the better, as George Takei’s proposed boycott on Indiana shows, but countries like North Korea, and to some extent China, also utilize technology to censor the true goings-out and shape public opinion in favor of their causes. Social media can be used to rally people, but as a good friend of mine pointed out to me, there is no quality control filter on the Internet. For every genuine cause with a purpose, there are 35 others spewing political ideology BS, biases, ignorant, un-educated arguments.. the list goes on.

As I’ve said, technology is a tool. The usage of it is up to us.

Mohammad A. Hamama Photo CC – by Mohammad A. Hamama – also relevant!

Youth of the Nation

Luckily, there are teens / students out there using the Internet for the forces of good. The Buddy Project, founded by Gabby Frost, is a foundation dedicated to helping teens with mental illnesses, bullying issues, and suicide prevention by pairing them up with other teens based on age groups, interests, etc. and essentially giving them a digital pen-pal and a shoulder to lean on. There are infinite numbers of foundations and pages out there dedicated to these types of causes, but The Buddy Project won a Shorty Award for the best Teen Activist page in social media. The foundation is open to all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. and the value of something like this simply cannot be understated. The Internet makes bullying a global issue. Faceless attackers face no retribution, but there are supporters. There are good guys out there. The Buddy Project wants to help find them. The Project’s Twitter page consists of motivational speaking, as well as condolences and reassurances that people with mental health issues aren’t simply “faking it” or in control of how they feel. The Buddy Project acknowledges problems, and treats them as such. Activism done right.

The focus is on the people suffering. It’s not on the nay-sayers, nor the monsters hiding behind the screen – it brings the light into focus. It highlights the need for changes. Teenagers, students, aren’t morons. They may be adolescents or even children, but kids know what’s up. They recognize wrong when they see it (unless they’ve been indoctrinated otherwise). Even if schools aren’t encouraging kids to be activists, they should at least be encouraging passion about societal issues. Encourage research before opinions are spewed out for the world to consume.

Chris Scheupp Photo CC – by Chris Scheupp

Do Your Part

When it comes to my own “digital activism,” I do significantly less than people such as Gabby Frost. I’ve signed my fair share of petitions. I’ve voted when I saw options necessary.

The best I try to do is speak in defiance of that which I feel is wrong. CSC’s paper, The Eagle, has been berated with my angry ranting (much like my blog) for the last few years concerning religious bigotry, internet anonymity, violence in media, LGBT / women’s rights, etc. I don’t have a campaign, I don’t have a legion of followers, but I have a voice, and I have the mediums to spread it. I “shape public opinion,” or more accurately, “call to action.” With words I battle ignorance and injustice – though I probably have done my fair share of participating in both of those things regardless, I’m sad to say.

The best I can hope for is that I’ll continue learning, continue trying, and continue improving. If I’ve made even one person feel adequate, justified, or comforted with my words, I consider that a victory.

Novo