Archive for March, 2010

Plato – as much wise man of the East, as philosopher of the West

March 30, 2010

Plato is the greatest of all Greek prose stylists, and through his tightly woven sentences run threads of delicate beauty and allusive grace. He doesn’t sound like anyone else; and he convinces us not only of the largeness of his mind, but of the genuine mysticism of his spirit. He tells us from the start that he is using metaphor, but we cannot help believe that he has glimpsed the world beyond the veil. He has at least as much in common with the wisdom of the east – with Buddhism and Taoism – as he does with the subsequent philosophy of the west. He is simply the great philosopher, and the difficulty one experiences in understanding him is not a difficulty based on superficial obfuscation but on his genuine profundity. No one grasps Plato by reading him through quickly or once.

– Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1995.

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Classroom Management in the Web 2.0 Era

March 29, 2010

This product was advertised on another website, and I thought that it put an interesting spin on the whole idea of classroom management, not to mention the socially networked classroom:

NetSupport School is a class leading training software solution, providing Teachers with the ability to instruct, monitor and interact with their Students either individually, as a pre-defined group or to the overall class.

Combining advanced classroom PC monitoring, real-time Presentation and Annotation tools, with an innovative customised Testing suite, Internet and Application control, real-time audio monitoring, automated Lesson Plans, Printer Management, Instant Messenger control, Content Monitoring and Desktop Security, this latest version of NetSupport School rises to the challenge and requirements of today’s modern classroom.

New Technologies and Privacy

March 26, 2010

There’s a very interesting discussion of this topic on Radio National’s Life Matters today (Talkback: young people and privacy). Among the subjects discussed are Digital Reputation, Normalisation, Social Currency, and Covert Bullying.

The Socially Networked Classroom

March 25, 2010

Just had email notification of this Classroom 2.0 event:

‘Web sites like Facebook and Twitter have transformed the way young people interact and communicate. With appropriate guidelines, students’ social networking skills can be harnessed to develop new literacies and deepen teaching and learning in the 21st century.

‘The Socially Networked Classroom demonstrates how pioneering teachers have successfully integrated screen-based literacies into their instruction. This book includes:

  • Real-world activities and lesson examples with assignment sheets, assessments, and rubrics
  • Ideas on fostering collaborative learning using blogs, wikis, nings, and other interactive media
  • Tips on Internet safety, blogging etiquette, protected blogging sites, and more
  • Blog entries from classroom teachers
  • ‘With this accessible guide for Grades 5–12, teachers of all levels of technological expertise can help students develop the new literacies necessary to succeed in a digital world.

    ‘William Kist is an associate professor at Kent State University, where he teaches literacy methods courses for pre-service teachers in the area of English Education in the Adolescence to Young Adult Education Program. He also teaches graduate students in the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program and in Curriculum & Instruction.

    ‘He has been a middle school and high school language arts teacher for the Akron Public Schools (teaching at, among other schools, his alma mater, Firestone High School); a language arts and social studies curriculum coordinator for the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center and theHudson City Schools; and a consultant and trainer for school districts across the United States, both independently and as a consultant for the National Council of Teachers of English.’

    Here’s the book:

    The Socially Networked Classroom: Teaching in the New Media Age

    Giftedness and New Technologies

    March 24, 2010

    I’m not overly fond of the term ‘gifted’ as a distinct category descriptive of very intelligent people. Since intelligence exists along a scale, and may vary from one domain (or area of endeavour) to another, the point at which a person can be described as ‘gifted’ is to some extent arbitrary. I’m willing to accept the term as a convenient shorthand, however, while wishing to avoid any elitist implications.

    I’ve already observed (following something I read a long time ago on a home-schooling website), that it seems absurd to adhere in the 21st century to a pedagogy developed at the birth of universal schooling during the Industrial Revolution. At that time, information was scarce, and school was the place where it was concentrated – in books and in the learning of the teacher. It was very much a transmission mode of learning. With the advent of increasing literacy, disposable income, cheaper books, public libraries, television and, more recently, the Internet, schools no longer have a near-monopoly on information. Arguably, children have access to more information outside the walls of the classroom than within them.

    In addition, developmental psychology has increased our understanding of children as learners. The role of the teacher has consequently changed, from a transmitter of information to a facilitator of learning. The focus is now on giving children the tools they need to solve problems (and, ideally, real-world problems), including the framing of questions, the conducting of research, the filtering of information, and the formulation of their findings in multiple formats.

    With these points in mind, it was interesting to hear a ‘Meet the Listener’ segment on Radio National’s ‘Life Matters’ program yesterday: Meet the listener: Stella Ward, what can go wrong with gifted children. Not only was this listener’s experience typical of the problems encountered by some gifted people (e.g. social isolation), but her comments about the Internet, which wasn’t even dreamt of during her 1950’s childhood, reveal the possibilities afforded by this medium, particularly for those with an insatiable hunger for knowledge.