The World Really is Changing

I couldn’t resist FINALLY a reason to link to one of the best West Wing scenes:
“Nothing is where you think it is.”
“Yeah, but you can’t do that, because it’s freaking me out.”

This week’s reading:

Guy Standing – excerpt about the Precariat from Eurozine. Entire PDF here.
Diana Hess – chapter from More Controversy in the Classroom.
Beth Simone Noveck – chapter from Wiki Government.

Two notes: 1) I love that I can just link to the book on Amazon and not have to type out the APA citation. 2) I just discovered the paste text toggle off feature and it will save me from having to type

into the code to format my documents, which I write in Evernote then transfer. #smallvictories

This is my last course reading reflection of the semester. Hooray! If you haven’t already read my wikipedia page that I wrote for the class (although at this point it is a mixture of my writing + copy edits by another wikipedian), then you should check it out at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_Leadership

The Future of School Leadership

I get caught in between wanting to believe the world is radically changed, which is why schools need to change, and wanting to believe that things are the way they’ve always been. Standing and Noveck, this week, both made me feel like the world is radically changed.

Standing’s article about the precariat made me wonder how much education responds to the changes going on socially in the world. Clearly teachers all live in society, so they experience it and are part of it, but the process of educating kids can feel so insulated (in a bad way) from the world. (I think Dewey said something like this.) I would see new teachers as fitting into the “proficians” category, in the sense that I don’t think most young teachers look at going into teaching as a life-long career. It is something they are interested in and will do for awhile until other interesting opportunities come along. I think this would also mean they lack a “work-based identity,” and learning the craft of teaching is not seen as a lifelong endeavor in the same way that it was for my parents.

Standing ends with a brief mention of commodification, “a central aspect of globalization…[that] has been extended to every aspect of life,” including the education system. By this, Standing means “everything can be bought and sold, subject to market forces, prices set by demand/supply, without effective ‘agency’ (a capacity to resist).” How does this work for information? It seems that the expectation for information is for it to be free, of which many examples are seen in Noveck’s chapter excerpt from Wiki Government. It made me think about Open Educational Resources, where people share a commodity for free.

Noveck mentioned Delver, the network based search engine. Unfortunately it does not appear to have continued to be funded, but thanks to the internet archive (archive.org), I got to see a video of their CEO, Liad Agmon, explaining it. Maybe it was before its time because people still do not see their social network as something they could mine for helpful connections.

I like the idea of every piece of information as a potential community, where data is seen in relationship to the groups who use it. This reminded me of our early discussions of data creating a Discourse (Gee). “By making information more visual, we make it easier to understand” (Noveck, p.127). This made me think of some of the work I did collaboratively with our art teacher around visual culture. Most of us know when we see a graphic we understand but we often don’t know why we understand it. Take a look at how terrible most research posters are. Clearly they do not follow a functionally transparent model of making sense! Who researches and teaches about the properties of how visual displays communicate? Artists.

The world is a dramatically different place than when our schools were founded, and yet schools still look very much the same. How much are we, as educational leaders, really willing to change? We read about double loop learning (Argyris) where single loop was feedback on what we did but double loop was how we did what we did. Maybe we need triple loop that puts how we did what we did in contemporary context.

Finally, a quick story came to mind after reading Hess’ article about discussions of controversial ideas in the classroom as a foundation of our democracy. One of my strongest and earliest teaching memories was a spontaneous debate with my first class class of 6th graders. We were discussing hunting as a way to manage wildlife populations. After they had all shared their views and counterpoints, they kept asking me what I thought. Instead of telling them, I asked them what they thought I thought. They started debating what they though I thought! I never told them my views, and I remember a sense of victory that I facilitated the discussion in a way that I could push from both sides while letting their voices be primary. When they walked out of class, they were still questioning the right answer, rather than putting the thinking away with my opinion.

Continue reading “The World Really is Changing”

Wikipedia… or, Handing Over “My” Work to the Wisdom of the Crowd

Linked from http://www.mewisemagic.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Wisdom-of-Crowds-PowerPoint-presentation-editable-crowdsourcing-slides-editable-people-graphics-for-PPT.jpg

There are two weeks left of the semester. I took four classes this spring, so the end means lots of proposals and papers and group projects. One of my projects, as I wrote about previously, was to write an entry for Wikipedia. I chose to do “Distributed Leadership” because it didn’t exist yet and it’s a body of research that I wanted to get more familiar with for the work that I hope to do for my PhD. I moved it to main space last Friday. Here is a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_Leadership

The technical parts of Wikipedia were not daunting: click here, talk pages here, write drafts in the sandbox, click there, upload pictures to wikimedia commons first, make sure not to violate copyright, keep notes on changes. Easy enough.

The objective of the assignment was straightforward: Read all the research and summarize from a neutral point of view. This is quite different from past assignments, where you are meant to make a statement, be critical in reviewing prior research, and present a well supported argument why your statement makes more sense.

I learned a lot (and am still learning) through this process, so here are Wikipedia’s 10 Simple Rules and my reflections on writing my article: Continue reading “Wikipedia… or, Handing Over “My” Work to the Wisdom of the Crowd”

My first Wikipedia edits!

For one of my classes this semester, we are writing a wikipedia page. Although I’ve read about how Wikipedia works, I’ve never actually done this. Very excited to learn how to contribute.

Turns out, it’s pretty simple. While in a class yesterday, I was looking up different labels for types of jobs, blue-, white-, and pink-collar, and found out that there is also green- and grey-collar jobs. On wikipedia, however, some link to each other but not to all. This seemed like a perfect first step!

I started with the blue-collar page, went down to the “see also” section, and added some links. Toute simple.

My first Wikipedia edit
My first Wikipedia edit

I got excited and started searching through how to add content. I found a video that I’d taken while in Florida this January from our trip to the Everglades. So I uploaded it to the Wikimedia Commons and put it on the American Alligator page.

Actually, I accidentally put it on the American CROCODILE page, and as I was blogging it, realized my mistake. I learned how to find how to UNDO a change!