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A taste of honey

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honey

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Imagine that, day after day, all you have to eat and drink are bread and water. When that’s all that you’ve ever had, it tastes good. Even wonderful, sometimes.

Imagine that on one special day someone gives you a little taste of honey. Maybe a small smear on your piece of bread. From then on, of course, your normal diet never tastes as good again.

So what? Well, I think that increasingly our schools will have to recognize that…

Our kids have tasted the honey.

When our kids go home, they get the opportunity to interact and connect and collaborate with people all over the globe. If they wish, they can do this on a regular basis.

When our kids go home, they get the opportunity to learn about areas in which they’re interested and to act on issues about which they’re passionate. They get the opportunity to be creative. They can make and share videos and stories and pictures and other things and, if others see value in them, find audiences in the hundreds or thousands or even millions.

When our kids go home, they get the opportunity to be immersed in personalized, individualized learning environments. We call them ‘the Internet’ or ‘video games.’ These environments are characterized by active inquiry and – in the case of video games – continual problem-solving.

What do our kids get when they go to school?

Do they get the chance to regularly and frequently interact with diverse people from all over the planet? Nope. If they’re lucky, they might get the chance to interact with other students in their class, who like as not come from the same place and/or culture that they do.

Do they get the chance to be active content producers rather than passive information consumers? Do they get the chance to reach authentic audiences? Nope. If they’re lucky, they get to be creative every once in a while for a ‘special project’ or occasionally exhibit their work one evening at school for the local community.

Do they get the chance to experience individualized learning? Nope. Instead, they’re exposed to a mass model of education, one in which they’re lucky if occassionally the lesson is at “their level.”

Of course there are some exceptions to what I’ve written here, but for the most part this holds true for most students in most schools.

Our kids have tasted the honey and they have no interest in going back to what was.

Scott McLeod

12 Comments

I have tried to get this message across but it is difficult.

There will always be a need for "teachers" but there will not always be a need for a place called "school."

Educators as we know them are growing more obsolete as the years go by. Sometimes I think the only glue holding the "school" together comes from the bonding of athletics as the community identifies with the school spirit.

But - when it comes to straight education - there are many options today and they are growing exponentially.

The Stock Mark Report
http://drmarkstock.com

I understand the frustration of not using the available technology we have at our finger tips. As a principal of an elementary school I encourage the use of technology in the classroom.

One of our problems is that the technology department of our district has so many restricitions on the use of blogs, wikis, and video conferencing.

These restrictions also make it impossible for our teachers to use certain sites for research or professional learning opportunities.

I am hoping that we can find a happy medium between abuse of the available technology and possiblities for students, teachers, and administrators through the vast wealth of technology.

This post reminds me of that movie from about a decade ago, the one that starts out with everyone living in black and white and gradually the characters light up with color--Pleasantville? Our kids have tasted the honey and so many decision makers in schools, including BOE members, are still afraid that honey is bad for us. Well said Scott.

I can't disagree with all of you enough. My name is Dave and I'm a special ed teacher. I'm 36 years old. The honey, eh? Would those be the honeys on the porn sites that so many kids check out? Or the honeys on the social networking sites that kids spend enormous amounts of time interacting with? We live in a hedonistic culture now, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, technology is here to stay. So is selfishness (individualism), and idolatry (consumerism). Yes, I'm online a lot ... for actual research. Most kids DO NOT go on-line for anything but their own pleasures. Like their cell phones and iPods, they ALL have them because their friends do and it's cool. Schools are not going away any time soon, at least not until all kids learn to teach themselves to read, write, do math, and think. Our public school bureacracy is a dinosaur, to be sure, but human beings, left to their own devices, would spend more time on My Space than the History Channel website. We need schools and a sound curriculum more than ever. Besides, when did the kids get smarter than the adults? They're not. Believe me.

A different lens: in my community... the "taste of honey" doesn't come from home. (We just discovered Jorge has been taking the trolly back and forth to his temporary home in Tijuana. Every day. On time. Alone. He's nine.) Our students don't go home to the internet because the majority do not have internet connections... nor computers in their homes. But at least most have food. Sometimes they even have honey... real honey. (Or those red hot flaming cheetos! ) No internet but many have Facebook accounts and Ipod shuffles and cellphones. So we use whatever technologies we can to stimulate their learning. In fact... in poor communities, we ARE the sole dispenser of honey. Maybe that is why Jorge is so amazingly resilient!

I believe that the majority of our students (past and present) have never been engaged by, or interested in, distributed information constructs or pure textbook learning. I believe that they have always wanted to create and share information. Great teachers have always and will continue to understand this and nurture their students' curiosity and enthusiasm to create, share and produce information.

What has changed, is the fact that the information that our students desire no longer requires a teacher to be the gate way to that information. New technologies have empowered them. They resent, more now than ever, being stuck in a system where they have to be spoon fed bland and non-nutritious information, when they can be feasting on the independent learning opportunities that new technologies present.

The fundamental disruptive conditions that demand a new kind of education institution are not new conditions brought about by technology. They have existed all along. The technology has given our students a taste of what they have begun to understand tacitly as being a better way to learn. Drop-out rates are rising. I do not believe that this is a coincidence.

The solutions have existed all along as well. Cooperative learning, constructivism, project-based learning, service learning to name a few. Think those are too recent? What about the Socratic method? None of these require technology, but some, maybe all, may be more easily accomplished with it.

I'm still thinking about the notion that "our kids" get a taste of honey at home but are starved at school: http://kriley19.wordpress.com/2009/02/07/alone-from-el-milagro-and-into-the-border-war/

I have two big problems with the whole "honey" thing you've proposed.

First, I don't see or hear about kids getting "a taste of honey at home." As a middle school administrator, what I hear about are kids playing the same games over and over again...maybe improving their eye hand coordination and their best score/performance. My own children at home like to use their technology at home to access all the episodes of Family Guy. Is Family Guy part of the "honey" you're referring to?!
Let's do a better definition of defining the honey before we slam our schools too much. Clearly, we could do a much better job leaving 19th Century educational practices behind.
However, what I'm hearing/seeing less and less these days are kids playing outside after school, being physically active and engaged with neighborhood friends/classmates...in actual face to face activities where fun is created,disputes come up, and are all somehow resolved.
Instead, MySpace is replacing all this.
I understand and agree with your larger point, but as a society, we have to wonder what's happening to kids who would rather sit in a living room alone playing tennis on the Wii than actually going out and playing real tennis.

The second big problem with this idea is that kids in poverty aren't getting much of the honey....as you've defined it.

I hear what you are saying, and don't disagree with you. However, your arguements are tired, and cliche. There has always been something that students use to "see the world". First, it was books. Movies have been around for almost 100 years. Then it was television. Most Americans have had a TV for going on 50 years. Even the internet is getting "old". I am 35 years old. I used the internet when I was in high school. Sure, it wasn't wiki's, and youtube, and whatever. However, I still would go home from high school (circa 1991) and log onto Prodigy, or America Online and talk to people all over America. 50 years from now, there will be all sorts of new technology, many of which we haven't even fathomed yet. And you know what? in the year 2059, there will be people just like you talking about how education needs to change, and asking, "why are we educating children in 2059 in the archaic way we educated children in 2009?".
Again, I hear what you are saying and I applaud you for not having the cynicism that I do.

I agree with Rich. Though I am not an educational leader (yet), I still don't see the need to revamp our teaching and our schools just to embrace what kids find cool. Kids have always considered school irrelevant. Since when did it matter to us? Kids are going to watch Family Guy first over writing that term paper on George Washington. A lot of adults are that way, too. Technology is a tool ... but it can't replace teachers! And it can't take the place of what a good, motivating, engaging flesh and blood teacher can bring to the classroom. By the way, there have been places (Somoa comes to mind) where they literally replaced teachers in the classroom with TV sets, to see if electronic media could teach kids better. Not surprisingly, the experiment failed. Kids won't learn any better with just internet and distance courses than they would if you just plunked them down in the middle of a vast library and said, "Here, go learn something."

Hi Scott, I do agree with you that school technology is not keeping up or providing the kinds of technology opportunities our children have at home. I teach first grade and it hasn't affected the children yet at this point but upper elementary, middle and high school students need more. They need to be creative and have that honey in their school menu. Ann

Honey is a sweet thing, especially when used with the right combination of ingrediants. It can be a healthy alternative to the many unhealthy options being sold to us. We need to take a step back and evaluate our society, our world, and decide what skills our students need. They need to be able to read and comprehend. They need to be able to calculate basic math problems. The need to be able to communicate verbally. Everything else? They need to know where to go and how to find the "everything else" that they can not do. We live in a technological world with endless possibilities right at our fingertips. We have the ability to see and experience anything and everything. Yes, children can spend too much time with computer games and in social chat rooms. As educators, we need to show them the honey in a educational setting for educational purposes so they know what is out there. If they like the games, they will most likely enjoy connecting technology to education. We can no longer deny this generation the skills of technology because "that's not how we learned." Take them to new places and you'll see how "the old teaching style" combined with technology will get results in the classroom.

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