The Library of Alexandria at your fingertips

Recently The Age published an article entitled Technology pushes teacher student relationships into new territory. It was an interesting read, but didn’t go far enough in my opinion. The quote from Andrew Douch saying

Everybody’s got access to the Library of Alexandria at their fingertips. We can take the conversation up a whole other level,” he said. “Students will be able to supply better and more recent answers than the teacher can, which is exciting and threatening maybe for some teachers.

is true. However, what was not mentioned in the article is the need for students (and teachers) to verify the validity of the information at their fingertips. This is what librarians did (and still do) when selecting books to be placed in the library collection. Librarians also do this when curating and developing Libguides, YouTube playlists or other resources that point to valid information online. This video from QUT Library helps show students how to validate what’s available online.


Students should get a gold star for hanging in there

Last Sunday (June 9) The Age published a piece entitled Teachers should get a gold star for hanging in there.

While it was a popular article with teachers on Twitter and was generally very supportive of teachers, there is one section of the article I disagree with.

One clear reason why we lost 70 per cent of children from reaching a year 12 final achievement was that we actually encouraged the girls in the typing/shorthand class to get a job in an office after year 10 and the boys who were ”good with their hands” to leave for an apprenticeship. To this day, I feel very guilty about that wasted cohort being lost to a fulfilled education.

Does that mean we are devaluing trade qualifications? That anything less than year 12 is not worthy?  That we don’t need tradespeople? That we deny people ‘who are good with their hands’ the opportunity to work in areas they have a passion and talent for?

My brother was one of these boys who left school at the end of year 11 for an apprenticeship. He was and still, good with his brain and his hands. That’s why he won several awards from his workplace and his trade school during his apprenticeship. That’s why he now engineers refrigeration and air conditioning systems on vital buildings like hospitals and blood banks. He would have been terribly unhappy in the confines of university. Today he thrives on his own creative solutions to difficult problems.

My plumber is another one of these boys. Still in his 20s, he has started his own business, employed an apprentice and supplies a significant service to his customers. He is respectful, efficient, clean, trustworthy and reliable. And happy.

What would we do without these boys? Who would provide the public service of collecting rubbish and keeping us healthy? Who would grow our food? Deliver our eBay purchases? Surely it is up to the student to decide their own course in life?

I will never agree that every student needs to complete year 12. I do believe that education is a key to life, but university is not the answer for everyone. There are plenty of other educational options for those wanting to learn. Tafe, Moocs, CodeAcademy, Khan Academy, iTunesU. You don’t have to be in year 12 or at university to be a student.

So I think we should also give students a gold star for hanging in there; we should support our students in whichever endeavours they choose. And that’s not even taking into consideration the fact that the two aforementioned tradespeople earn much more than I do and I have two Masters degrees on top of my BEd.

Learning and sharing

These days, I find that pretty much everything I learn has been shared by others. I try to share back through having the resources I develop for school open and public. Of course, many of the links on my school wikis (professional learning and online resources for students) are links to items that other people have shared. What goes around, comes around.

So it was really heartening to read the tweet from The Age reporter Jewel Topsfield that stated:

Here is the link for the wiki page Jewel used as a  source. Aitken Creek Primary School teacher Bec Spink agreed to my request to feature her use of Twitter in the classroom on the wiki page to share with teachers at my school. Jewel saw our correspondence via Twitter and voila, a story on Bec and her use of Twitter that was published nationally.

Congratulations to Bec on the recognition her trailblazing deserves. Read her post about the article here. Thanks too to Jewel for highlighting the great work teachers are doing. Got to love sharing.

Who’s watching you?

In April, I wrote a post entitled When did going out in public mean you’ve signed your rights away? It was about people surreptitiously taking photos of others and posting them online.

Today’s Age has an article about professional artists and photographers who are making a living from this type of thing. Who’s watching you? discusses the ethics of this type of behaviour, but basically states

Simply by leaving our homes – private only to the extent that Google Earth is limited in its reach below our eaves – we give our permission to be watched.

Do we really? Is the alternative a life of a hermit? What happens to those people (and there are some, believe me) that haven’t even heard of Google Earth, let alone what it does? How can they give permission when they aren’t even fully aware of how their picture can be distributed instantly and globally?

I’m all for taking pictures and sharing them. I loved the instance earlier this year when students took a photo of their bus driver talking on a mobile phone and putting their lives at risk. The evidence in the photo led to actions against the bus driver that would never have happened on hearsay alone. The pictures weren’t published but shown to school and bus authorities.

But I think we need to be morally aware of sharing and publishing photos of people who are unaware of their photo being taken. Or those who refuse permission. We need to have some boundaries in our lives. If we don’t take pictures of ourselves and upload them, why should somebody else make that decision for us?

I’d love to hear your comments.