Archive for the 'personal' Category

TB and the real story (and teaching our kids to think?)

Friday, March 24th, 2006

I listened to a story on (oh, here it comes) NPR this morning about drug resistant tuberculosis.

This particular story struck my interest after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains : The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder. This book blew me away and opened my eyes to the story behind the story about the multiple drug resistant tuberculosis problem around the world. It turns out that, according to Farmer (who has dedicated his entire life to not only changing policy, but working one-on-one with those in need), the problem is caused by sloppy treatment and overpriced drugs that are very cheap to produce. Farmer goes so far as to reverse the impact of MDR TB in a community in Haiti, demonstrating to the World Health Organization how it really can be done right.

You may be wondering where I am going with this (or you may already know ;) ). If you listen to the NPR story and then compare what you hear to what Paul Farmer tells you, it is a very different perspective. NPR’s report tells us that it looks bleak, that there is not much known about why this is happening or how to fix the larger problem. Farmer says otherwise. This was a good reminder for me that, while I love NPR, it too has many limitations. It is always important to listen/read/think with an open mind and open ears.

I guess this is a theme in my life. I firmly believe that this is a higher level thinking skill that we should focus on when teaching our students. Youth of today will be faced with problems and challenges that we can not even imagine. This is nothing new - the world is in a constant state of change, and while we do not know where that change will specifically take us, I do believe that approaching global change with an understanding of different perspectives is imperative to a better quality of life on this planet.

That is where the left lane ends for me - where the path gets exciting and we all start to think.

And the two become one

Monday, March 20th, 2006

So, I had my first occurrence of online interactions meshing with the real world…hmmm…

I became passionate about ,wakeboarding a few years back (I really don’t like sports, but absolutely LOVE wakeboarding - this video will give you a general idea of what it is) and have been posting on the DallasWakeboarding site recently. Someone asked if anyone had a video, and I popped up with ‘yes’. Me met halfway a couple of days later and exchanged DVD’s.

I know. NOT a big deal. But it was still weird for me as it was a new experience. Kids are different, though. The funny thing is that when I asked who all had IM accounts in our church youth group the other night - they ALL raised their hands! I’ve mentioned this before, and David Warlik talks about being digital natives, but I was simply reminded of my immigrant status.

Online communities provide an avenue not possible before - connections with people we never would have met. It baffles me how these communities can be local or international, but still connect people in a way that we hadn’t even thought possible ten years ago. So, I’m not sure if this is where the left lane ends, but I’ll at least chalk up another experience and hopefully have a new buddy to throw down some tricks with…

Tommorow Will Be a Better Day

Friday, March 10th, 2006

This is an incredible essay that I thought was very moving. It gave me some hope…

NPR is doing a series called ‘This I Believe’. It is well worth listening to. You might even get hooked and sign up for the ‘This I Believe’ Podcast!

Why do we inhibit???

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

So, I was working on some stats stuff this afternoon/tonight, looking for some kind of decent conclusion to be made between a control campus w/out 1:1 laptops and one with 1:1 laptops (middle school). WHAT I was doing with these statistics didn’t strike me as much as HOW I was doing it.

(I’ll tell you up front that this is an opinion piece rather than a connected/hyperlinked piece…read at your own risk!)

I started my work with some data analysis software (SPSS, for all those stats fiends out there(ok, I lied, there will be some links!)) that I am just learning. My first resource came in the form of a phone call to the person that collected the data, Gerald Knezek at UNT. He had the same software on his computer and we walked through a number of different ways to analyze the different variables. It amazed me how quickly I was able to pick up the use of this software, even though neither of us could see the other’s screen! Language, in regards to software and technology, has leveled out to the point where we can do that.

Later that evening, I was meeting with a colleague to continue work on said project. As we were meeting in person (with 2 PPT screens open, 2 SPSS windows, Firefox with WHO knows HOW many tabs running and email up and going), I noticed my father was on Messenger. “What are you doing?,” I asked. “Grading Statistics papers,” he replied! Sweet…live help! (He teaches Stats, among other things at Sterling College in KS.)

So, while working live with my colleague (who had his own laptop going), I was messaging my father to get valuable information about how to run some new and very functional reports (thanks, Dad), working on my computer, pulling data off of the web, jumping back-and-forth between PPT and SPSS and even managed to message a friend to let him know what I was up to (who could’ve cared less that I was playing with statistics).

It struck me. THIS is how it’s being done now! THIS is what kids need to be doing in AND OUTSIDE of school in an effective 1:1 implementation. It seems so random and attention deficit, but yet it works so well!

Another great illustration of this came through the Mac interface this past weekend as we went to relax to some live music at Standard and Pours, a Dallas coffee shop/local music scene. We were listening to one of the openers and I noticed a college aged girl sitting in front of us working on her PowerBook. That wonderful Mac interface demonstrated this concept SO fluidly, it was almost poetic! (we’re a windows shop here in Irving.) She was dancing back and forth between writing a paper of some sort, researching online, talking to two friends, browsing personal interest web sites, playing a game (which would pop up when the other player, apparently located somewhere else in cyber land, would make a move) AND actively listening to the performer on stage! A keystroke would move her around between the different windows, and when selected, would zoom that window to a larger work size - you know how Mac windows zip around the screen playfully… Then her friend would IM her, and that window would zip into view. After a quick response, she would flow back over to her paper and write a half a sentence more! My thought was how I would just love to see the flow of that writing! I couldn’t believe that it would be connected or fluid at all. BUT I WAS DOING THE SAME THING EARLIER TONIGHT!

Now, you may be thinking: “Well, Jerram, just look at your spastic writing - you’ve been A.D.D.’ing whilst writing THIS piece (which I HAVE been, by the way).” So what’s the point??!!

The point is, we give kids laptops and spend SO much time blocking, inhibiting, impeding, limiting and preventing them from connecting, despite the FACT that they should be connecting, flowing, working without limits and relating to the world - their world.

Well, it was Miguel’s note:

Discussions among technology directors focus, not on the best ways to use such technologies, but how to best block access to those technologies.

that got me started on this whole thing. I didn’t think I would bring it to the fore tonight, but out it came…

Sometimes, when you see the ‘real’ world compared to the real education world, you just wanna ask ‘WHY?’.

I’m a PBS Geek, but…

Monday, January 30th, 2006

So I’m known for being a PBS/NPR geek, and I typically don’t like watching much TV beyond that scope. But…we (my wife and I) got hooked on LOST tonight. What a show…

It begins…

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

We’ve all been there…driving mindlessly down the highway…going toward our destination on some kind of human, brainwashed autopilot.

It’s when the left lane ends when things start to get exciting. The road narrows, we leave the familiar highway and explore new territory. The left lane ends, and we start to think!

It is time we stop going with the flow and start searching for new and exciting paths that lead us to think about what’s ahead. It is time we stop driving ourselves though life mindlessly and start searching endlessly for ways to engage students, embrace our changing world and make education what it is supposed to be.

You see, for me … that is where the Left Lane Ends.