Saturday, January 3, 2015

TMI (Dear Katie, V3 #15)

Dear Katie,

It is difficult for me to just "veg out" watching a movie or TV show.  I want it to teach me something or make me think.

Over the break, I decided to watch the Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson comedy The Internship, a farce which chronicles the attempt of two 40 year old laid off salesmen, with severely limited computer skills, as they compete in a Google internship program.

In one scene, Owen Wilson decides to chat up an attractive Google employee.  He points up to a spacecraft that hangs from the ceiling at the Google headquarters and asks if it ever went into space.  The employee, Dana, tells him all he needs to do is go to a webpage,

"type things in and search for answers".

After a bit more conversation (mostly one sided on Wilson's part as Dana keeps her fingers flying on her tablet), Dana ends the talk telling him that the ship he sees is the Spaceship 1 that won the X Prize for private outer space launch.

Some takeaways for the classroom.

1) So Much Information You Miss the Wonder

When Dana, who you figure has gone down the steps with the Spaceship 1 hanging over her many times, could not answer Wilson's question about it, it was as if her ability to get information quickly made her take the ship for granted.

When I need to know about it, I can always get the information.

Yes, I know it's a movie, but does the access of information deaden our appreciation of what is right in front of our eyes.

There is another character in the movie, Stuart,  that makes this point.  He is constantly looking at his cellphone throughout the first half of the movie.  For him, the information that he will garner, be it about spaceships, computer code, or even the posts and pictures of family and friends on social media is more important than the world around him.

It is only after a wild night and watching the sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge that he realizes the awesomeness of the world around him.  The wonder that he is missing.  As the group is getting ready to leave, he asks them to stay a bit  longer to he can take in more of the beauty of the morning.

The Digital Age is here, 
but let it enhance,
not replace, 
the beauty & information 
that the world around you presents.

2) Give enough information to wet the appetite.

Dana gave Wilson the background knowledge he needed to find out more information if his curiosity is genuinely piqued.  He knows it is the Spaceship 1.  He also knows it won the "X Prize".  What is that?  A good teacher does the same thing.  He/She gives

-genuine excitement about the topic being taught-
-enough background knowledge-

that allows a student to reach out beyond the walls of the classroom and discover more on their own,  Talking about spaceships, this thought reminds me of the movie October Sky.  Homer Hickam and his friends join their teacher's excitement about physics and rocketry to go out and discover more.

3) How can you adapt your classroom 
to meet the "full court press" of the Information Age?  

Yes, many of the "answers" are at your student's fingertips, so is there information that you need to memorize?  Of course there is.  A search begins with keywords that come from certain information that is stored in a person's memory.  Poor keywords will make the search much longer.  When the search results come, background information is critical to determine what website will be most relevant.  Are we assisting them with that skill?

Can you learn from a movie that isn't about teaching, of course you can.

Allow your world and everything in it to be your classroom.  

Is that Googliness, I don't know, but I like it.

Uncle Kevin

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