NECC ’09: We need new language

I’m in the Bloggers’ Café at NECC 2009, and listening to the ISTEvision tv show in the background.  I’m amazed at the language.

No, people aren’t swearing.  But they’re using the language of motion. “We have to move into the future.”  “We have to change direction and speed into the changing world.” “We’re moving forward at incredible speed.” “We’re stepping into the future, not a step back in time.” – (ISTE CEO for the last one).

I’m guilty of this myself.  But it’s the wrong language.

First of all, we’re always “moving” through the dimension of time, as Einstein demonstrated with his famous temporal arrows diagrams, and as the theory of relativity further proved.  Second, that arrow pushes us in only one direction, out of what was and into what will be.

An earlier commenter pointed out that “change” is also a loaded term. It’s what you get when you buy a cup of coffee.  It’s what you put into the cup or hand of a beggar.  A Buddhist monk, in the old joke, would tell you that it comes from within, not from without.

Again… it’s the wrong language.

The School 2.0 BYOL session yesterday talked about how important it is when talking about school 2.0, and educational and learning reform, to engage in specific concrete thinking and action.  Maybe we should shift our language choices to other forms, away from language connected with change and motion, and toward specific,  concrete actions… hence:

  • I will USE digital tools in the classroom.
  • I will DESIGN lessons around student action
  • I will SHUT UP and let students talk.
  • I will STOP USING paper worksheets in class
  • I will GRADE using frequent student input
  • I will PAINT, SCULPT, and WRITE. to model for my students
  • I will WORK ONLINE and STOP FEARING the Internet
  • I will TALK WITH PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD.
  • I will VOTE for progressive education with my vote, my money and my feet.
  • I will DANCE with ambiguity and music.
  • I will PLAY online games and CONNECT with my students and my teachers with social media.

Feel free to add to the list, but I think that this kind of language is a whole not more valuable than “moving into the future.”

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