Education Evolutions #78

The future of books flickr photo by Johan Larsson shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

As I reviewed my reading from the past week, there were so much good work that had crossed my musings across the internets. There was no shortage of articles that I had to choose from. In fact, the haul from this week may be sprinkled through weeks to come, as I try to limit each week to a few and maybe an extra or two.

This week may seem like it is loaded with long reads but do not be deceived. Only the smartphone article is truly a long one. It is completely worth the time, of course, but the read times might be a little misleading this time more than others.

Thus, this week’s “If you read only one article…” is the first one. It kind of comes on the heels of the Jason Reynolds piece from last week. I think all the articles I include are all worth reading, obviously, but that Times piece is about as much a must-read as I have ever included. Even if you only admire the photographs and jump around the whole piece, don’t be surprised if you get sucked in completely. Plus, it continues the kind of message I suggested last week educators cannot hear enough. The youth we teachers get to teach, they kind have something going on.

Hope you enjoyed autumn in New England. With those 60 mile-an-hour winds this weekend, there are not a whole lot of leaves left on the trees.

Here are three curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

36 Teenagers Show Us Their Generation – The New York Times –  Katherine Schulten (19-minute read)

If you have not seen this piece from The New York Times and work with teenagers, stop what you are doing and scroll through it right now. Do not let the 19-minute read time prevent you from even just jumping around and maybe only reading the bits below the photos that you find most arresting. It is insightful, interesting, and inspiring. The photography is pretty impressive too.

As I have mentioned before, it is awfully easy to let the day-to-day frustrations and build up of aggravation taint how we view young people. Of course, they do things that are annoying, foolish, or rebellious. They are after all just kids. Yet, there is something awesome and powerful in today’s youth. I wonder if every generation takes the time to look at those coming of age with fondness. As Jason Reynolds said in the piece I shared last week, they are the antidote for hopelessness.

A Sociology of the Smartphone – Longreads –  Adam Greenfield (27-minute read)

While the Times may have identified the smartphone theme through youth culture today, it is far from just the kids that find themselves hooked. This piece is an excerpt from a book but it is one of the best examinations of the complex and complicated relationship we have with the now ubiquitous devices. In fact, it is a topic that demands a much longer read.

What I appreciate most about this how deep it goes in exploring the way the devices work and all that deep dive entails. I suspect that Greenfield is right about just how much the consequences wrought by the mass adoption of this technology have faded from our concerns, which may not necessarily be the best thing, as much as it might benefit Apple or Google. The concerns he raises alone are well worth the read, let alone the bargains we enter in owning one or the darker, hidden ways in which it is ultimately delivered to the palm of our hands.

Op-Ed: Are we Teaching our Kids to Write Like This? – The El Paso Herald –  Tim Holt (3-minute read)

I don’t even remember how I came across this op-ed but it didn’t take long for me to silently shout, “Amen.” I am not sure that I could be more aligned with the argument that Holt makes in this article. It is an argument I have endeavored to make most of my teaching career in fact, inspiring me to change positions in an effort to deepen my understanding. I think this kind of thing is that important.

If anything, I would depart from Holt in his characterizing any of this as digital storytelling, because I think that term is living and has outlived its usefulness. This is way beyond digital or storytelling. Simply put, this is what we mean by the word literacy in today’s world. Now that I am back in the English classroom, I am more convinced than ever that it is the context and place to gain the most traction in the effort to get students writing the way Holt suggests. In fact, the National Council of Teachers of English concurs for the most part as well. With the changes that have been witnessed in the last 10 years, it seems to me it would be complete malpractice to not face what now is a new reality. And I do not write those words lightly.

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