Today concludes our blog discussion of the book Who Owns the Learning? Feel free to go to Laura Komos’s blog to find all the links to others who are blogging today.
“To manage complex projects, we need people who can understand other points of view,” a CEO of a large bank told the author of this text. The point of teaching “global empathy” was consistent throughout Chapter 5, i. e., teaching kids to see that every issue can be seen from various perspectives. November mentioned that Europeans and several other countries were raising children with more of this understanding than our U. S. students. However, November was able to provide us with many examples from classrooms where students were interviewing children from other countries, or experts on a particular topic, through Skype video conferencing. I know of several examples myself where skyping is being done and can only hope that it will catch on more. If you don’t already Skype, November gives explicit instructions on how to do it.
With the last chapter, I felt like I got a good glimpse into the future of education. What’s going on in the classrooms of the two teachers he described is most likely NOT happening in many other places. But it’s certainly a start to hear about these teachers who are incorporating all the parts of the Digital Learning Farm into their on-going projects.
Last night I reflected on the experience of reading this book with a group of other professionals through blogging and commenting. I believe it has many positive aspects: 1) by using our online sources, we were able to “chat” with teachers from all over, and 2) our blogs are now posted for others to see all over the world. BUT I really miss the face-to-face interaction. We all wrote reflections (or did these fabulous digital responses! Duh, not me:) and then commented after reading each other’s ideas. I contrasted this experience to last summer when I invited 11 literacy friends to read What Readers Really Do (a fabulous book, by the way). Though only 7 could make the discussion day at my house, we had a wonderful conversation. We bounced off each other’s comments, built a conversation about what this book meant for us in our classrooms, got immediate feedback/response to our ideas, thumbed through the book and referenced various pages, read favorite quotes aloud to each other, and so on. I might be old fashioned, but I still like that kind of book discussion!
Looking back over my notes and underlinings, I noticed two things I thought I would get from this book. The first was “Imagine a school where every learner is valued for making a contribution to benefit the whole class” p. 6. I definitely think that Alan November provided us with multiple examples of this statement.
My second big underlining that I was hoping to find in this book, but didn’t, comes from this paragraph:
“Society gains a new generation of lifelong learners with a strong work ethic, a critical understanding of how to use technology to solve problems, and a well-developed sense of global empathy that enables them to communicate and collaborate with people from any geographic area or culture in the accomplishment of tasks and goals” p. 7
I felt the “solving problems/accomplishing a task” was missing. I guess I was hoping to find an example of a class who did something like…. I don’t know…. maybe a group of middle or high school students who found a way to get fresh water to a village in Africa that had none. I guess that was too much to expect. OR maybe that will be in his next book! All in all, a great read…. and an inspiring discussion with others.