I am back from a work trip hiatus, exhausted and refreshed. How is that possible? Working a conference means eleven-hour days – exhausting. BUT the conference was in Monterey – refreshing! BUT the attendees were several hundred of California’s superintendents – exhausting. BUT there was open bar every night – refreshing! BUT, there was open bar every night – exhausting.
On the last day our keynote was Travis Allen, who is only a few years older than me. Already awesome to be this age and addressing that group. He is a business school student who is touring the country with his team on a bus, stopping in districts and helping them implement tech effectively, often by facilitating sessions in which the students train the teachers – also awesome.
His main crusade is actually utilizing the techy part of tech, instead of just subbing it in for pre-existing methods (ie: interactive media curriculum vs. having kids read textbooks off ipads). The point seemed obvious and appealed to a clear, simple way of thinking which I unfortunately had lost sight of in the years following school. Except now that I’m an “adult” spending my time in a “professional” environment, it’s also easy to imagine and sympathize with how such a simple objective can be convoluted into something essentially dysfunctional after a grueling pass through the uphill meat grinder that is bureaucracy + governance (my words not his).
I thought about his presentation for the rest of that day and on the drive to Big Sur that afternoon, and aloud, drunkenly that evening, to my unlucky campsite-mates who acted very into it but were probably wondering why I wasn’t more interested in talking about the time they crashed a motorcycle in Thailand. I realized the full implication of my interpretation of what Travis was expressing was that America’s entire educational paradigm needs to change. The content students have been told they need to memorize in order to succeed is LITERALLY all now googleable, by anyone, for free. Think about the implications of that… the waste of time, the waste of money, and whether the current system makes getting an education an asset or a burden.
While I love facts, I admit that a decent amount of my teenage years was probably wasted searching text books for information and writing it on paper. The time that I know wasn’t wasted, was any spent with the teachers who I looked up to. If, instead of googling facts, kids spent the school year learning best search engine practices and resource reliability/checking sources from a HUMAN who inspired them to care about their world and instilled creativity (scary concept for some of us) instead of killing their joy by showing them that the closer you are to a parrot the better you’ll succeed as a human… that would be great. In my opinion, that’s a decent plan to instill a life-long love of education with batshit crazy potential as well.
Btw I accidentally typed install first in that last sentence and almost kept it, because that implication would’ve been hilarious. But I don’t feel like we are quite there with the inside jokes yet, like you might not be convinced I’m… not a genius but definitely not an idiot… WHICH BRINGS ME TO the point of the three-part post series to follow: to begin to establish some ethos wit ya’ll.
But really, more than anything, what I realized from last week is that my friends and I and really our whole generation need to get our shit together and start getting paid thousands of dollars for our brilliant ideas. Here’s one of mine for free: reverse flushing.