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EdTech Update





Personal change - or lack thereof

I went on a hike last Sunday to the summit of Eagle Mountain, Minnesota's highest peak at 2301 (don't forget the 1) feet. The top can be reached by a moderately challenging three-and-a-half mile hike through the BWCA. It's primarily the rockiness of the trail, not the elevation gain, that makes this a less-than-easy walk. I enjoyed the day.

I thought I had done this hike before, and sure enough, I found not only a photo but a little meditation on life that I had posted 10 years ago - almost to the day.

In "Balancing Work and Life: The Climb to Eagle Mountain," I asked:

So what is the secret to balancing one’s work and leisure time? What parameters do you set for yourself? Should you count work that you enjoy as play? Does all work and no play really make Jack a dull boy? Should a person be able to take a few days off to go hiking knowing that the e-mail won’t get answered in a timely manner? Or is it egotistical to think the world can’t get along without you just fine for a couple days?

After 10 years, I am not just hiking the same hills, but asking the same fundamental questions about how one should live one's life. And I am not quite sure how to feel about this. I am, for better or worse, fundamentally the same person I was ten years ago - the same values, the same tastes, the same hobbies, the same vocation, and the same foibles. And if that is the case, have I learned nothing in 10 years? Am I not diligent enough in asking questions and pursuing answers? Am I incapable of personal change?

Ironically, my position as technology director demands that I ask others to change - teachers, administrators, technology staff, even parents. We change hardware and software and processes. And even those things are easy to change compared to cultures and habits and mindsets and core beliefs.  

Kind of nervy for some guy who wears the same brand and model of shoe today he wore in the last century to ask that classroom teacher to reconsider her whole approach to education. 

 The beauty of the BWCA as seen from the Eagle Mountain overlook is timeless.


BFTP: Warning to all parents - don't let your children grow up to be readers

Parents, let me give you some advice you need to act on now! If you wait too long, you will suffer.

Do not, under any circumstance, make readers out of your children. Here is the sad, but true story of the mistake I made. Let it be a warning to you....

I found my daughter, even as an infant, loved to be read to. Bedtime stories, middle of the day stories, stories read by grandparents - you name it, she ate it up. Cranky day - a little Scrawny Tawny Lion made things OK.

She started getting books as gifts. The ones she loved the most she saved. Why did I not see this early on?

She read before she started school and continued to read voraciously throughout school. I am ashamed to say, I encouraged this, insisting she have a book to read when we traveled. I was even proud of her high reading scores and interest she showed in books. And of course, she continued to collect more books.

When she started college, I should have realized, there was a problem. Her books came with her. Just a few boxes, but, hey, doesn't everyone have a few favorite books to keep around?  I missed so many warning signs!

As college progressed, the book collecting habit grew worse. Each move to a new dorm room or apartment included a growing number of book boxes. Even if they weren't labeled you could tell them from the others - even the small ones were heavy as gold bullion. (And I don't remember her staying in any place that fewer than three flights of stairs to climb!)

In college, my daughter met a man who shared her obsession - another book collector. And now there are two grandchildren who seem to adding to the family book collection. OK, OK, I will admit that I've even give the grandsons a book or two, but come on!

As a father who spent the last couple days helping his daughter and her family move, I have to warn all parents to take action before it is too late. Turn your kids onto video games, e-books, even television watching. If you don't  each move your children make means a visit to the chiropractors.

I am grateful that my beautiful daughter has never broken my heart.

But she has sure done some damage to my back!

Original post July 29, 2010


After 20+ years, why are schools still scared of the Internet?

A friend recently e-mailed me a question asking what to do about a staff member who refuses to sign her school board's Internet Acceptable Use Policy. Whaaaa????

My response:

Is your AUP board-adopted policy? If so, she does not have to sign it to be bound by it. When one signs a teaching contract (or any employment contract) one is agreeing to abide by school board policy. Why are teachers required to sign the AUP and not every board policy? I would ask. 

If this is some document the tech department has created, she probably doesn't have to sign it. I suppose you could take away her Internet privileges, if she doesn't. ;-)

As my friend suggested, the requirement that the Acceptable Use Policy be signed separately is a "a holdover from the 'technology is a spooky new dangerous entity for which we need special rules and regulations' days."

So just how long will it take before schools stop seeing the Internet as a threat rather than an asset? A a permanent part of our world, our culture, our education?

But then again we still have to have Banned Books Week since some adults in schools are still afraid of print. And that's been around a lot longer than the Internet.





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