Small, Dazzling Moment
I am not a fan of 4:00 a.m. Not even Ted Rives’ brilliant performance poem of that title can persuade me that there’s anything magical about that time.
Last week I found myself wide awake at precisely 4:00 a.m., wrestling with my pedagogy and the life of my current class.
I’m teaching Literacies & Technologies in the Secondary English Classroom, AKA Literacies. This could be a breeze to teach, I know– just do a bunch of cool, web-based stuff and have students write some lesson plans. I call this the technology-as-gimmick approach. This is also known as the integrating technology approach, which David Warlick implores us to stop.
This semester, I took, what for me, was a big risk. Even though I knew it would be wildly unpopular, I scaffolded key theoretical readings about literacy, New Literacies, web 2.0, for the first 6 weeks. Yes, we also dove into using cool tools– blogging, RSS, social bookmarking– but comments about how much they valued practical applications began to appear in class discussion and blogs.
I promised we would soon get even more hands on. They listened politely but I knew they were not pleased. That’s some of what I what I wrestling with at 4:00 a.m.
We’ve done a few practical things of late. Last night we finished discussing a book of strategies for integrating technology. I wanted to know what they thought about it. Oh, good they mostly agreed. Their but lingered in the air. “Should I use it next year?” I asked. Their answer came quickly: yes. Why?
“Even though I wouldn’t do most things the way they’re described in this book, reading the ideas sparks a million of my own.”
“The resources are fabulous!” said one woman, holding up the text to show page after page of URLs highlighted in pink.
“It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t push a professor’s point of view,” said another.
“How do you know that it doesn’t?” I said.
“I’ve set up this course deliberately,” I said. ” I may not be demanding that you drink the Kool-Aid (a reference to the method of mass suicide that followers of a cult leader used at his behest, & the class joke about what their fears of what I’d expect) but I am certainly asking you to do more than admire its pretty color.”
A slow response. “It’s just…well, if we hadn’t read all that stuff before we got to this, I think I might have been like, ‘Oh, cool! This is how to do it.’ But I realize how much more there is to this technology thing than….”
“Gimmicks?” I interrupted. (Note to self: I must stop that.)
Nods all around the room. A little more discussion of the value of a less-than-perfect text. Then we moved on.
A risk, a reward. Maybe not such a small moment, after all. But dazzling? Oh, yes.
“Holiday Punch” Stock photo by laurie, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License