Monday, April 8, 2013

The Opposite of Awesome

The picture above was shared on Facebook by a valued member of my Digital Learning Network (DLN). In the picture, my friend’s daughter is dutifully transcribing her digital writing to paper, so she can turn it in to her teacher.


Preparedness for college and careers comes in many forms--I understand that. I get it. What I don’t get is how pervasive and valued the traditional is over the modern.

The word curriculum, etymologically, is Latin based and is rooted in a meaning around a course or path to be run. The path here, as evidenced by this single image, is leading to irrelevancy. It’s ok as a teacher to not know all that is on the digital horizon, but to ignore it or to minimize its use, here in the 2nd decade of the 21st Century, is outrageous!

When technology allows us to do something markedly better or easier than we ever have before, it almost seems like there is an air of deceit in using it. Modern tools are more likely to be seen as ways to get into trouble, or cheat, or worse.

Over the years though, through the centuries, the pencil has gotten mankind into more trouble than any computing device. Just ask Alice Walker or Salman Rushdie. Or Toni Morrison or D.H. Lawrence. Or even Suzanne Collins or J.K. Rowling. But the pencil is still the belle of ball, even today.

Would we forgo the use of a lighter and start brandishing sticks to rub to make fire? Why not? It’s authentic!

This picture just blew me away. But I’m not going to dwell on it...I’ve got quills to sharpen and scrolls to roll before I leave work for the day.

Picture courtesy of Crista Anderson.


  1. Ugh. Yeah, this is pretty bad. Does the teacher know that she is doing this?

  2. The really sad part is that there are a LOT of students who wouldn't even bother to turn it in if they had to do "double work".

  3. Even more painful is to think that this might be a "first draft" to the teacher. This process might happen several more times with the same assignment.

  4. Has anyone asked the teacher? Is this a 4th grader or 9th.? I personally remember more of certain information when I do write it, a muscular memory is activated. This strategy is great for a lot of folks. . And it doen't translate to a computer I've noticed for myself. Why is everyone so quick to assume from this photo? It doesn't look so obvious.

  5. The student in the picture is a 7th Grader. I don't think there are any assumptions here, though, just commentary. The first comment was a question, the second was an extension, and the third, by using the word "might," is a justifiable speculation. Some kids do remember more when they "write it down" but the logic of a "muscular memory activation" I would think applies to however the information is created, motor-skill wise. The picture here is visual support for my reporting. While I'm sharing true events and providing my own personal opinion about it, I certainly don't want to suggest that my opinion is the only relevant one. I think the most relevant part of this post IS the comments--making the blog an impetus for conversation. Also, while I personally did not interview the teacher, my information came from the parent. This is a school that is trying to authentically bring the technology in. This teacher isn't there yet. Were I working in this building, I would want to help the teacher, in a scaffolded way, get to a new tech-infused zone, perhaps starting with accepting an email from a student as an alternative to the hand-written and traditionally valued product. (Unless handwriting was the objective here. Though in this case, it is not.)

    Thanks to all for continuing the conversation!