Went out to MOC this morning with my principal for a meeting with a DECD group on Innovative Learning that my school is part of. Like Woodville Gardens, MOC is one of the State Government's new "super schools". For me, this is the third super school that I've visited (including my own) and it is a weird feeling to walk around a school that has some many architectural and design similarities but has a different student population and the purposing of the learning spaces always has a unique twist. For some walking around today, everything looks brand new but for super school leaders, the feeling of walking through a parallel universe is impossible to shake. There are in jokes about the company that services the grounds and buildings to share and it does seem that each super school has attracted a leadership team with innovation and progressive practice in mind, and are harnessing the majority of their staff member's expertise with their vision on board. So it is weird for me to see how each unique school is endeavouring to break the mould in facilities that are variations on the same architectural theme. But it is cool to see disadvantaged communities having new state of the art facilities provided for them - and a focus on rethinking and doing this thing called education a little differently.
Just to show the architectural similarities, here are two shots of both schools. Don't panic about the smoke in the background of the WGS pic - that was from a waste oil factory a few suburbs away!
So I finally sat down and watched the KONY 2012 video tonight. A colleague had pointed me towards it earlier in the week just as it was starting to go viral but my urgency to check it out was tempered by a post on ShortFormBlog that hinted that it might be wise not to take the video as pure fact.
I'm not the only one intrigued by the clever use of social media to tell this story. KerryJ reacted in a similar fashion to a number of my work colleagues while Daniel Stucke mirrored many of my personal reactions to the whole KONY2012 issue. How we bite on a well crafted, emotional message either shows our own feelings of compassion, levels of cynicism or the very human need to feel like we can make a difference in or to the world. It is also a measure of our digital literacy skills - the skills that we are (supposedly) teaching to our students.
By mid-week, the backlash against the video started to show in mainstream sites. The Atlantic was particularly harsh:
Kony 2012 is so seductive for precisely the same reasons that make it so dangerous. The half-hour video, now viewed 40 million times, sets viewers up for a message so gratifying and fulfilling that it is almost impossible to resist: there is a terrible problem in the world, you are the solution, and all you have to do is pass along this video.
I find it interesting that it seems to be mainstream news media outlets that are leading the pushback. Effective digital literacy would include questioning their motives as well as the Invisible Children organisation who produced and posted the video. Could it be that they has been caught napping on a very important issue? Could it be that this video treads into what traditional news media might see as their turf?
The only other thing that I would add as an average citizen of a privileged country is this. Before Monday, I had never heard of Joseph Kony or the LRA. The sheer momentum that this video has produced has raised my and the millions of viewers worldwide's collective consciousness. Whether we support or dismiss the goals and actions of the KONY2012 movement, or the target of their campaign, one thing is certain.
Now we all know.
NB: Seth Godin analyses the video from a social media perspective here. And I highly recommend the ShortFormBlog's even handed coverage of the unfolding events. And as a final bonus, check out the graph below from Wikipedia edits on the Joseph Kony page as people jump on board to rewrite the definitive article on the central figure in the whole saga.
Australian schools are not without their problems.
And there are tendencies from our political masters to adopt the worst practice of other countries in the name of education reform.
But I'm still trying to wrap my head around this post.
I occupy education every time my interns ask, “Why is education like it is today with all of the restrictions including pacing guides?”
I occupy education by telling these interns that some people do not believe that teachers can make their own decisions about how to pace curriculum.
I occupy education every time interns ask, “Why do teachers go on when they know children can not learn fractions in 2 days or one week?”
I occupy education when I tell my interns to always do what is best for the children and that includes learning well, not fast.
I occupy education every time an intern asks me why children can not talk at lunch or have to walk down the hall with military precision.
I occupy education when I tell my interns that I can not excuse a teacher who warns a child once about talking at lunch and then the second time that child talks, his or her lunch is thrown out and their nose is pressed against the wall for the rest of lunch.
I occupy education when I tell my interns that I do not understand why children have to walk down the halls with their cheeks popped out so they can not talk and their hands are rigidly by their sides like soldiers when they are 5 or 10 years old.
I mean, does this really happen?
I've never ever seen a pacing guide. I know I would have irate parents on my door step if I implemented the last two strategies, and have no system support for my actions.
But is this us in two, five, ten years time? Could the Aussie "she'll be right" attitude let this all in? How do we keep what is great about Australian schools without aping the extremism warned about in the Lonni Gill post?