Archive for June, 2009

The Right Question

Author: GDhuyvetter

“How do we stop this?”

I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time.

Living in a changing time is scary, particularly for those of us who were grounded in the previous era. Every challenge to the status quo by new technologies immediately brings out the inner “grumpy old man.” I’m never sure which change will be the one which brings down Western civilizations and all that I hold dear, so my first reaction is to shout “Get off of my lawn!”

I am ashamed to report that about 20 years ago I went on a rant in a department meeting about how computers were going to ruin the whole nature of teaching, so we couldn’t let our students compose essays and papers on them. I was completely right and completely wrong at the same time. I was asking “How do we stop this?”

I still have this gut reaction as the classroom and school setting continues to evolve; however, I’ve tried to change the question. Instead of asking “How do we stop this?” I try to ask instead

“What does this mean?”

What does it mean, that students have cell phones with them all the time?

What does it mean, that we find so many examples of students copying material from web sources?

What does it mean, that students communicate via social networking sites?

What does it mean, that students send inappropriate instant and text messages?

“What does this mean?” is non-judgmental. It makes no value assumptions about the resources or the students who use them. The question opens me to information and allows me to address causes rather than effects.