I haven't posted in awhile, not because I haven't had anything to say, but because things here have been busy. The way my school's schedule works pretty much the entire semester needs to be wrapped up (please excuse the holiday pun) before winter break. When we come back in '08, we get about a week of class before finals week begins.
In the time between my last post and now, there have been a series of events upon which I'd like to reflect and that will hopefully provide me with somewhere to start when I come back from the mainland in January.
1. I finished my 3rd marathon on Sunday. While I was running, I couldn't help thinking about the experience as metaphor for the work I've been doing this year, and for the past 7 years, actually. The Honolulu marathon is known as the people's marathon. It prides itself on not having a finishing time limit. This year, the last finisher came in somewhere around 14 hours. While the winning time was around 2:17. The frontrunners would have eaten 3 meals and gone to bed by the time the last finisher makes it across the finish line. This is a lot like the experience of education in the 21st century. What I enjoyed most was making my way back to the finish line after crossing it myself and encouraging runners still on the course. And I think that's an important part of being an educator. It's a people's endeavor. Some are well trained, some aren't. Some finish sooner, some later. But the runner's high is the same. The feeling of accomplishment bonds all finishers.
This year, there was another interesting twist. It seems that the timing system failed, meaning everybody's times might be incorrect. And this really has made me think about the reasons I run. At mile 23 this year, I really didn't think there was any reason to run another marathon. But by today, now that I can walk down stairs unassisted, I'm already thinking about another race. In an undertaking like a marathon, does time really matter? It's just a way to measure what you've done. But is it measurable to anybody but me. This year I wanted to run a personal best, since the last marathon caused an injury that kept me from running for over a year. I missed that time (by my watch, not the official clock) by about 2 minutes. But I still feel like this was a much better race. I think I trained more efficiently, at healthier, enjoyed the experience, finished feeling good, and have been enjoying the recovery. Another metaphor that I want to remember as I encourage my students and colleagues.
2. Last week, after connecting via Twitter, I hosted Wes Fryer and Dr. Dana Owens for a day on our campus, meeting with Technology Resource Teachers and Director, as well as working with teachers to incorporate more authentic learning experiences. The conversations were, of course, excellent and edifying. But there was something else about that day that's been ineffable for me until I was able to juxtapose what I learned from them about their WWII Digital Storytelling project with several conversations with colleagues here. What Wes is doing, and what technology allows us to do is bring education back to true experiential learning: apprenticeship. Thanks to Lisa for articulating this idea. Wes has involved 8000 students in collecting the stories of veterans from their communities. Commercial news would be hard-pressed to collect 8 stories. Students are apprenticing as archivists, storytellers, community activists. This is also what's happening over at Students2.0, where students are apprenticing as educational writers and thinkers. Lindsey and I spoke earlier this week about how meaningful the experience has been for both of us. I wish I could have her apprentice as an educator. For more visionary thinking on the idea of education as apprenticeship, check out The End of Education by Neil Postman.
Part 2 coming soon...