A dangerous trend in education is the advent of the Learning Management System (LMS). Jim Groom writes about the danger of siloing our data across the web rather than sharing it freely. In other words, if you work in Edmodo, it’s difficult to share that content outside of Edmodo. It’s stuck and you’re robbed of the ability to share your work with a larger group who can build on, improve, and re-share.
The LMS has taken off because it takes the difficulty out of piecing things together. Unfortunately, rather than taking the time to look at alternatives, we go for the easy answer without considering the implications of locking out content until it’s almost too late.
I’ve started a document which walks through how to connect documents, blogs, videos, and calendars all through RSS. Rather than locking your content away, RSS pulls from various sources – preferably ones you control – to deliver content directly to you or your students. RSS has been around for a long time, but it takes time to set up and manage, which is why most people pass over the option.
The goal of this document is to help you connect your dots. It’s growing and dynamic. I’ll update it, add, and take away. Feel free to copy it for yourself and share it with your colleagues. We need to begin talking about controlling our content and I think this is a great place to start.
My previous three posts looked at ideas from John Spencer’s book Sages and Lunatics. I could go deeper because it is full of great discussion points, but I’d rather you just read the book. This is the final post.
It is incredibly difficult to spot the difference between a sage and a lunatic because at first glance, they look the same. The difference is that a Sage has some defining qualities the Lunatic lacks.
- The Sage is retrospective. He or she recognizes that over the last few decades, the relational aspect of teaching has been lost. Sure, it went way too far one way in the 70’s and has since swing back to the assessment side in recent years, but we’ve lost sight of that middle ground. Students are pupils, not humans. Teachers are masters, not people. The relationship is exacerbated every day in schools with nary a peep. The Sage recognizes that education is much more than compliance and control…there is relationship – a dynamic that is special (sacred?) between teacher and student that we need to recognize. The Sage pushes back to that ideal while the lunatic screams in the background.
- The Sage is unconventional. Confusion is a tool to be used strategically, not a pathogen to be wiped out through “educating.” Riddles and nuance flow freely during class with the intent of pushing students to just before their breaking point. A Sage rides the line between challenge and hopelessness in the face of discovering new ideas. Lunatics may often do the same thing, but for their own entertainment or indifference about the means used to reach the same end. Look carefully, and you’ll be able to see the difference between the two.
- The Sage is humble. Classroom wins are local and celebrated with the community. Yes, stories and successes are shared, but all through the lens of the student and their growth. The Sage is always looking to serve others – be it parents, students, administration, colleagues…their own growth comes from helping others grow. The Sage recognizes that when everyone has an opportunity to succeed, the organization is healthier overall. This includes passing on opportunities to help a colleague. Selflessness is indicative of the teacher who gets it.
The really difficult thing about all of this is that the Sage doesn’t feel like one. They may feel like a normal teacher or even the lunatic. They don’t claim to have all the answers, just ideas which worked out for them. Remember these things as you meet and work with educators – you may learn something from a Sage without even realizing it.