Post #2 – Growing Up Online

Someone on the Yalsa-bk listserv that I’m subscribed to sent a link to this Frontline episode called Growing Up Online. The whole program is interesting and relevant to our discussions on Web 2.0, Millennials and teaching technology.  The specific segment I want to talk about for this post, however, is the second segment: A Revolution in Classrooms and Social Life.

The piece is a profile of a high school that is working to embrace technology in order to engage students. There are two teachers featured in the piece and you can read the full interviews for each of the teachers here. In looking over the comments, I found many people (keep in mind, these are PBS watchers for the most part) who were objecting to the comment made by Steve Maher that we need to re-look at what constitutes cheating. Here’s another quote from Steve Maher that gets at my point on this issue:

“Remembering information isn’t as important; accessing it is important. And then, since there’s so much information out there, it’s judging the information that applies to your particular situation. What types of information do you need, and how can you trust it? How did you know what’s valid? …”

This has always been a major part of my beef with the current educational climate. Don’t tell kids what to think, teach them how to think. As a (future) library professional, I am very involved with the idea of information literacy.

Is it important to know that the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066? No. (and yes, I found that in a brain crevice somewhere… (history geek=me)) It’s more important that a student knows where to find credible information when they need it.

Is it important to read Heart of Darkness or Catcher in the Rye or Jane Eyre or (insert name of “important” literary work here)? Maybe. But to me, it is more important that they be able to read, reflect and discuss a narrative coherently, even if that narrative comes from a graphic novel or a work of series fiction. Better still, let the student choose their own reading…

So is using Sparks Notes cheating? In the full interview, Steve Maher goes on to say that the best way to prevent cheating is for teachers to create authentic assessment tools. Don’t have the students write an essay on the causes of the Cold War. Have a debate in which half the students prove that the US started the Cold War and the other half proves that the Soviets started it.

Don’t give a multiple choice test on the themes in Othello. Have students recast the roles of Othello, Desdemona and Iago to reflect today’s values and social prejudices. How would the story be the same; how would it be different? (Othella and Desdemona, anyone?) You won’t get the answers to that from Sparks Notes.

This has turned into sort of a novel, so I’ll quit. But I’m interested to see what others think, especially those who are currently/hope to be in education.

Thanks for indulging me,



How do you cope?

Okay, I experienced this in undergraduate school, but it was different since I wasn’t actually working in the field while I was getting my degree.

When you’re in school, you learn an incredible amount. You get excited about the things that you are learning and you want to try to make your profession a better place. You have so many new ideas, and you want to try them out in a real world setting. That’s why it’s really nice to be working in a library while going to library school. You have all these guinea pigs co-workers and patrons around to test your theories.

Then you run into barriers. People in and outside the profession who aren’t interested in change. People who are comfortable in the status quo. People who have a very Library 1.0 view.

Is anyone else dealing with this? How do you cope? How do you get your message across when those around you dismiss you as “young and idealistic”? Any words of advice?