You can sum up this school year in a variety of ways. However, please don’t use the word “unprecedented.” The challenge isn’t what to say about the past 7 or 8 months – the challenge is how will we end it. Punctuation marks might be the best way to frame this finish.
Over and done.We came, we saw, we conquered. Signed, sealed, and delivered.A year like none other and thank goodness it is finally over. Full stop.
I can’t breathe with this mask on! Hybrid model of education, I didn’t sign up for this! Two more months, you got this!Summer time!
A pause, however continuation as next year is not going to be much different, and this situation/sentence will just continue to go on.
How will we start in the Fall? But what about graduation ceremonies?How might we go about really getting closure to the year? What are the effects for children being in front of computer screens for so many hours?I never did understand, how is it sanitary for students to pass a football but not share a pencil? Do the footballs have an anti-bacterial coating?
A case can be made for the fittingness of each form of punctuation. Yet, a lesser known, unusual mark might top them all. The ellipsis. And maybe that is because ellipses do the opposite of what punctuation usually attempts; indicating relationship between ideas.
The “dot, dot, dot,” usually is used either for omitting text, for pausing or trailing off in speech or thought.
Perfect. Even more so, considering the advent of the ellipsis can be traced back to the drama of the 16th century. “Drama was ‘especially important’ in the evolution of the ellipsis,” says Dr. Anne Toner a Cambridge academic.
Our parents and grandparents may have profited or toiled from the Roaring 20s and Great Depression. Unarguably very dramatic times. But, in our own lives, what has caused more stir than COVID-19? No better punctuation mark seemingly lends itself to the drama of the past year (or year and a half!) more than an ellipsis.
How we end the 2020-21 academic year is of our choosing.
The “rain” has fallen. I only hope we subscribe to American singer-songwriter Johnny Nash’s optimism, “Look straight ahead, nothing but blue skies.”
Because bright, bright sun shiny days are surely ahead.
At the beginning stages of a project on innovation, I conference with students. My conversation with Anthony was staccato, more detached than cut short.
“Great, you want to see how gaming consoles have changed throughout time. As you begin to research, what are some questions you have? Or, if you find out anything about gaming consoles, what do you wonder most?”
The response a dead end.
A child void of wonder could be linked to a listless boat in harbor. Not only captainless but tethered. However, eternal optimism screams out, “The boat is still afloat!”
Unfortunately, the conversation with Anthony was not exclusive, others had played out over the years. Dejected tones imbued in learned compliance. Students comfortable with conforming to carousels of simple obedience and going through the motions traditionally called, school.
In quiet reflection I question the myriad factors which might contribute to what appears to be an inverted approach to learning. Specific to Anthony I wonder, “How often in middle school has Anthony been given free reign to wonder?” The normative approach possibly is one where teachers have over a hundred students and countless standards to “cover.” Systems of disempowerment where students are subjected to learning, as opposed to being agents of their own learning.
Further contemplation led me to take a deeper dive into what research says about the nature of wonder and curiosity. There is little if any scrutiny of the value of curiosity in learning. Yet, there is artistry behind designing approaches that truly listen to learners and provide the right conditions for revelling in wonder. To do so would not be noble but simply, humane. Intentionally fueling, as opposed to extinguishing this lifeblood. Curiosity, a hallmark of our human experience.
“My team and I at Recruiting Toolbox have worked with thousands of corporate recruiters and hiring managers inside many of the best known companies on earth. And as you uncover what makes a great recruiter great, you start to hear common themes across industries and geographies. Curiosity is not always explicitly called out, but it’s there — it’s like an underlying competency, that leads to the more visible competencies that talent leaders and business leaders tell us they want to see more of in their recruiters.”
But it does not stop with curiosity. So too is the need for context and razor sharp problem solving sets. Kurt Reusser’s 1986 study, is in effect sadder than it is humorous. How Old is the Shepherd posits, “There are 125 sheep and 5 dogs in a flock. How old is the shepherd?” Though absurd, researchers reported that three quarters of schoolchildren were willing to offer a numerical answer to the shepherd problem. Conditioned to calculate and not question, there is little wonder how passive learners were not confused by the word problem. They just needed to come up with a number.
Good news! This study was more than 40 years ago. Or is this really “good” news. School curriculums have done anything but prune existing curriculums. The time and space to develop intuition, explore, and question most likely has become even more confined. The pace of the world continues to quicken and students are expected to know and be able to do more, but seemingly in even less time. Racing as if there is soe sort of finish line. Further, consider the wieldy role of AI and algorithms. Aimed at optimizing everything, algorithms increasingly are taking hold. Their grip tightening as can be seen in the case of the “all knowing,” Google. “People Also Ask,” (PAA), previously known as “Related Searches,” appears after any word is typed into Google. Only, no longer is this search all about knowledge and limited to generation of millions of results in less than a second. Google also proffers a list of questions (PAA). A list of what we might want to know. The pivotal role of wonder shortcutted. Users neither “have to” nor “get to” think of the questions. Though under my brow for several years, only now am I conscious of the implications this feature may have on the future. The approach so seemingly sleight of hand. I am left with one dominant feeling.
If you look up “gobsmacked” on Google, the first enquiry in “People Also Ask” reads, “Is gobsmacked a bad word?” Impulsively, I click on the question and find “…it’s used for something that leaves you speechless, or otherwise stops you dead in your tracks.”
Exactly. I am speechless, stopped dead in my tracks.
This is because “Googling” is no longer solely about knowledge and answers. It is also about questions. Conditioned to still question I do not intend to hand over this privilege to Google. But how many busy learners will? Or, already do!
Will Google revisit their mission and even rebrand themselves? This seems to be a matter of subterfuge, as Google exceeds their interest in, “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.”
Warren Berger, self proclaimed questionologist and best selling author of A More Beautiful Question, references how today’s work environments are entrepreneurial and in need of educational systems which value questioning. Personally I plan to begin by truly nurturing curiosity and intentionally affording time to question in the classroom. I myself modeling inquisitiveness and improving the habit of verbalizing my questions. I also aim to take inventory of the types of questions students are asking. Thankfully, “Is this going to be on the test,” appears to have all but vanished. I plan to hold close to the following five steps by Berger to help my students become better questioners:
As of late I find myself swirling, if not drowning, in acronyms. First SPACS and now most remarkable of all, NFTs. Non-fungible tokens. Never one to be a laggard I took a deeper dive.. And to simply know what NTF stands for is not enough. More than “all the rage,” NFTs likey are the future. Clearly millennials grasp the concept of NFTs and are paving this somewhat ethereal and hard to conceive of future. One where we may stray from the more traditional business model of stocks, bonds and mutual funds, but also dip into the entertainment industry. Artists, athletes, and musicians are seemingly all rushing to create limited digital editions of their “goods.”
In layman’s terms, digital items being bought and sold with digital money. What is especially of significance is how authenticity is being guaranteed. Each item stamped with a unique code and stored on a blockchain. For more information on blockchain technology, there are a host of YouTube tutorials on the subject. For now, just think Bitcoin. and where a distributed ledger system underlies blockchain technology. Meaning, the ledger or records, are spread across the whole network, making tampering difficult. Further, it is encrypted, anonymous, and data added cannot be removed or altered. Everything is recorded. The whole “story” intact.
In the news you may have read how a band called the Kings of Leon garnered more than $2 million by auctioning a song. Then, American football superstar Rob Grownkowski auctioned playing cards. Many others followed but none matched the recent trade of a JPG digital piece of art which sold for $69.3 million.
The beauty in each sale is how the internet acts as a short of auction house, helping artists reap the benefits of their trade. The middle man cut out. In the case of the near $70 million dollar graphic art sale of “Five Thousand Days,” graphic artist Mike Winkelmann, known under the pseudonym Beeple, profited from his 13 years of attention on the “masterpiece.”
New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose posited in a March 24th article, “Why can’t a journalist join the NFT party, too?” $558,134.50. This was the result of Roose’s column purchased by a user named @3FMusic. “The biggest perk of all, of course, is owning a piece of history,” Roose wrote in the column. The article is the first NFT in the New York Times’s almost 170-year history. The column purchased is about what NFTs are all about. Now that is philosophical!
Shifting to professional sports, there is question of whether or not athletes will be able to fully represent themselves. Or, will players be more like owned commodities? Gronkowski’s NFT trading cards were auctioned for over $1.6 million. Patrick Mahomes, another professional football star raked in $3.7 million. The 25-year old has a mission to “make the world a better place,” and proceeds were donated to his 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, as well as 40 different Boys & Girls Clubs in Kansas and Missouri. However, the National Football League is moving fast in hopes of cashing in on NFTs. Recently a memo was sent to teams telling them that league approval was needed and to not begin making their own agreements. This is on the heels of the National Basketball Association establishing a partnership with Dapper Labs and development of NBA Top Shot. This is a place where fans are able to buy, sell and trade official licensed digital cards. With an estimated market cap over $1.5 billion, this is a slam dunk for the league.
The fashion apparel brand Supreme was a bit a bit ahead of the curve. Opened in 1994, Supreme was just that. Supreme in its uniqueness and originality, possibly even items being limited in stock. Yet, living in Asia has afforded me many lessons. One, is to not be fooled by a fake. Ubiquitous are the markets where knock-offs are so well constructed, that only the price attests to imitation. Buyers ultimately chasing exclusivity.
Will education follow a similar trend? Hopefully not in exclusivity but in authenticity. As students “brand themselves” with credentials and accomplishments that ultimately can be attested to by a ledger.
The future holds great possibility. And I wonder where we might be in 10, five, or even three years. Because I continue to try and wrap my head around how a piece of digital art, a JPG file, something not in the physical realm sold for nearly $70 million. Purchased with digital money also not in the physical realm.
Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do (The Twilight Zone Theme Song).