Monday, March 05, 2007

Wires and Lights in a Box

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.”

~Edward R. Murrow in a speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) convention in Chicago (15 October 1958)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Computer Using Educators Conference in Palm Springs. After three full days of very worthwhile sessions I was lucky enough to finish up with a session by Gary S. Stager entitled “If Blogging is the Answer, What was the Question?” Mr. Stager is a provocative speaker, putting forth questions about the real value of our use of technology in education. It was very valuable for me to step back, so to speak, and look at the larger picture after attending a conference of great sessions with practical applications for teaching and a mind-boggling exhibit hall filled with over a hundred vendors displaying the latest new technology. Mr. Stager urged us not to passively accept this latest new technology, but to really evaluate how we can use it for truly innovative teaching and learning. We should not, in his words, deliver “old wine in a new bottle.”

He concluded with the above Edward R. Murrow quote, which is about television, of course, but could easily apply to computers today. It lingered in my mind as I drove home to Santa Barbara. And yes, I used some of this amazing new technology (Wikipedia) to find the quote this morning and to be sure I had it correct and the context in which it was spoken.

This is a challenging new world for education. And I’m glad to be a participant.

Before I left, we had two busy days in the Library.

Kindergarten—Mrs. Sickafoose’s classes was transfixed by the 1948 story by Dr. Seuss entitled Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose. It’s always amazing to me that our present day students with all the electronic and visual media available to them are still completely engrossed in the wonderful language and rhythm of Dr. Seuss’s words and the quirky originality of his illustrations.

First Grade—We read the fourth in our California Young Reader Medal nominees, The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle. When a boy wants a dog for a pet his mother tells him to find a dragon instead with hilarious consequences. The illustrations by Hanako Wakiyama are most intereting and have a decidedly mid-century modern feel to them.

Second Grade and Third Grade—Our fourth nominated book this week was Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown. When the bookmobile goes to the zoo, the animals pick out books that match their interests perfectly and end up building their very own “Zoobrary.” Judy Sierra’s rollicking rhymes have just a touch of Dr. Seuss in them and the pictures from Marc Brown of the “Arthur” books add to the fun.

Fourth Grade--In preparation for Dr. Seuss' birthday on Friday, March 2, we read one of my favorite Dr. Seuss Books, The Lorax. While enjoying the eccentric story and illustrations, the fourth graders were able to see the message Dr. Seuss had in mind, and considering this book was written in 1971, it shows how prescient Theodore Geisel was. The current concerns about global climate change and our urgent need to take action were discussed by students. Ideas they had ranged from using alternative energy sources, to buying and driving hybrid cars, to recycling clothes. Some even hope they can someday design cars that could run on water!

1 comment:

Dee Martin said...

I LOVE the Murrow quote! How true.