Saturday, June 7, 2008

Engaging Critically

I viewed a Simulcast by the Annenberg Foundation entitled Art of the Western World. The broadcast showed different classroom scenarios. Each lesson involved one of the performing arts and the classroom discussions that followed.

After the performances and classroom discussions by k12 students, there followed a roundtable discussion by other educators. One young lady noted "...ultimately we want students to engage critically with the world..." That comment struck a chord.

So many online global projects ask students to do just that. Our present k12 culture is predicated on classrooms where there is one right answer provided by one person. Parents, students, and educators have come to expect it. Anyone going against the grain is irritating. Guess what I am.

Engaging critically with the world is what those online have come to expect of themselves. Because they own it, so to speak, they can give it away to their students. (concept courtesy of Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach) Many are very successful at taking the world by storm. Now there is a different challenge.

We need to motivate those outside the echo chamber to join us. We are in a position to prod others to engage the world critically. We can help others synthesize their learning by connecting the dots, by searching the web for outsourced professional development, by participating in the backchannels, by writing about what is learned.

Tis the season for a great many conferences and many of those will be streamed in some way often including a backchannel. Many friends and acquaintances will attend conferences that we do not. It is possible with today's technology that they could include others in the conference experiences. I urge you to take advantage of these possibilities, to seek them out, to engage the world critically. Once we know how to synthesize our learnings this way, we can more adeptly lead others in engaging the world.

Hoffman-Dachelet, R. (2008, June 6). Art of the Western World. Annenberg Media Online Simulcast, from
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