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Topic: Beyond Technology, How to Spark Kids' Passions
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Jerry P. Becker

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Registered: 12/3/04
Beyond Technology, How to Spark Kids' Passions
Posted: Jul 23, 2012 8:47 AM
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From Mind/Shift [How we will learn.], KQED, Thursday, June 28, 2012.
. Our thanks to Margaret Small for bringing this piece to or
Beyond Technology, How to Spark Kids' Passions

By Tina Barseghian

Amidst a sea of tech devices, and at a gathering of more than 18,000
educators interested in technology, a surprisingly human message rose
above the noise at this week's International Society for Technology
in Education.

Kicking off the big event, where crowds overflowed from one packed
room to another, Sir Ken Robinson, renowned author and international
education adviser, proposed the idea that technology is not the only
driver for learning.

"The problem now is resisting the notion that technology is the
answer to everything - it's clearly not," Robinson said. "But what
part of the equation does technology best speak to?"

Robinson, who's been outspoken about the need to change the education
paradigm, emphasized that educators shouldn't be pushing (or be
pushed toward) the gratuitous use of technology. He posed
thought-provoking questions that got to the heart of what every
stakeholder in education wants: what does it take to engage students
- not just within a standardized curriculum, but in their own
learning? What are the roles of technology in doing this? And what
are the implications when it comes to implementing practices and

SIDEBAR: "We should get rid of the words 'curriculum delivery.' It's
an art form to teach."

In the hunt to find the next Holy Grail in education technology,
Robinson said we may be losing sight of what teachers are best at.

"We should get rid of the words 'curriculum delivery,'" he said,
referring to the multitudes of tech platforms. "It's an art form to
teach, the judgement of what might work today may not work tomorrow."

Teachers are the connective tissue in helping kids find not just
subjects at which they test well, but what they're passionate about,
he said. "You often don't know what you're passionate about because
you haven't been introduced to it in the right way," he said.
"Teachers provide that stewardship we need," he said.

For teachers, helping kids find their passion outside the confines of
standardized curriculum and testing can be a messy endeavor, but
worth the challenge. Marc Prensky, author of the book BRAIN GAIN:
Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom, added that, rather than
finding different ways for everyone to do the same curriculum, we
need to find a way to allow individual students to create their own
pathways to learning.

Though technology could help in this realm, the value that great
teachers bring to the equation is immeasurable against what software
can do, Prensky said: providing empathy and helping students find
their passion by providing a wider place to look.

"Helping students find their passion will lead them to achievement," he said.

Ever the pithy presenter, Prensky proposed to the audience four ways
teachers can do this.

. LISTEN. It's impossible to encourage students when we don't know
what their passions are, so above all, teachers must listen to their
students. "Or else what we get is 'cellophane kids,' when a teacher
looks right through them to the curriculum and test scores and kids
become invisible," he said.

. RESPECT. Adults and kids don't respect each other as much as they
should, Prensky said. "The war between digital natives and immigrants
is over, and the natives have won! So let's move forward to mutual
respect and wisdom," he said. We need both technology and strong
pedagogy, but we need to include kids' voices in how we make
decisions about learning. "All education decisions come top down
right now," he said. "The next century is about changing that."

. OVER-EXPECT FROM STUDENTS. Today's kids have far greater
capabilities than ever been before, not less. "What's making them
better is connecting their brains to technology wisely," he said.
Let's step up our expectations of them in that regard.

. DO WHAT YOU KNOW IS RIGHT. "Teachers know what kids need, but
someone has convinced them to just cover the curriculum," he said. A
teacher's job is to help equip kids with skills to function and
thrive in the digital future, and though that could be challenging
because of conflicting policies in place, that's the definition of
PHOTO SIDEBAR: Flickr:ScratchPost
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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