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This old dog.

Stop. Just stop.
Stop. Just stop.

Much ado is being made about age these days. Maybe it’s my own resentment of being a digital pioneer, and constantly being reminded I’m in charge of training children for jobs that don’t exist yet (for Pete’s sake, it’s not like I’m asking them to be farriers or corset-stay carvers!) At the NCCE, included in one lecture’s description was “NOT YOUR PARENTS’ TEXTBOOK!” which, yes, using the “o” word — offended me a tad. And not only am I playing a shoddy offense but defense as well. In this political climate my sons’ generation is constantly maligned: labeled entitled, privileged, whiny, and naive. My friend John Spencer gets it. VSauce has a great video about “Juvonoia,” the idea that younger generations are lame.

So I suppose if those younger than I are a bit miffed and allow for casual ageism to creep into the conversations, I must try not to cast my own disapproving glare.


But ageism is actually quite horrifying. We’re all living longer, and creating a world where each generation gets a little smarter (thank you unleaded gasoline!) and a bit more savvy with all these critical thinking skills we’ve been touting. We’re creating awesome smart monsters humans. And while young folks may think of us as “elders” in their capitulating apologies, it has very real consequences.

Yes, young woman, you are contributing quite a bit. But over-40s are not quite “elders” yet.

So why does this get to me? Perhaps because it has an ‘ism’ at the end. “Ism’s” connote binary decision making: yes or no, black or white, up or down. Ageism is permission to assume someone cannot learn something about anything, but usually, especially technology, because they are old. Is it as bad as racism? I can’t make that claim. Its consequences may mean someone doesn’t get hired, so while we elders are trying to pay for our millennials’ college, we also can’t save for retirement. This article feels like a biography. Ageism decreases opportunity and allows for mocking on good days, and discrimination on bad. There’s that binary thinking again.

That moment when you realize someday you too, will be old as....never mind.
That moment when you realize someday you too, will be old as….never mind.

So, tiny examples: if I see something cool, guess what I do? I try to figure out how it was done. One of my little goals right now is to create gif doodles. Believe it or not, I can’t find any good tutorials, and this is making me feel a bit doddy. But they’re so cool! Not as cool as the Silicon Valley holographic mustache, but still…

Is there something you’d like to learn how to do? Can anyone help me with this? I’ve fallen in a gif and can’t get up!


PS I know how to use Snapchat. I just choose not to. My students laugh at me because my husband is my only friend. /sigh You’ll understand when you’re older.

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Between a rock and a hard place: decisions, decisions…

mrs-love_help-me-obi_2Well, my wonderful MC students, we’re at a juncture, and as your fearless leader, even I am scratching my head, wondering where to go next. Do we take a left, struggle with Charybdis the whirlpool, or venture past Scylla, knowing a few of our crewmen are bound to be chomped up?

Well, how many times have you heard it’s about choices? You’re given a set of options, and you determine the best course of action. As my students know, we are very fortunate to have technology at our disposal – to use to enhance your learning, and my teaching. I thoroughly enjoy using technology to learn more about topics I’m interested in, how to become a better teacher, how to develop interesting lessons, etc. And you, my students, can choose to teach me new things, interact, and grow as a people, too.

That’s one path.

The other option is to use the laptop like an expense See and Say toy, something to push buttons, and try to hide as much of your distracting, off-task behaviors as possible, from a simple music file to something that is completely inappropriate and possibly even illegal. To say I’m disappointed and discouraged by those of you who have chosen this path is not only an understatement, but it feels defeating – like you wanted to “win” a game by not having your laptop available to you, but “losing it” you would “win” at some imaginary game only you were playing. I’m not sure what rules you came up with for your game, but as your teacher, I can only tell you that you are in true danger of losing.

So…do you want to go 100% doom of Charybdis’ whirlpool, or take your chances at surving Scylla? I will continue to do what I can to help you survive, to succeed, to learn, to grow, to prepare for your present and your future.  

What’s around the bend, the corner, the towering rocks? Well, it’s your choice.

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Why Do We Learn (Anything)?

Happy President’s Day, George. Abe. And the Rest. You Helped Grow a Strong Tree.

The other day a student asked why we were bothering with learning about ancient world history/civilizations, mythology, etc. His father (a German citizen) thought learning about American History would be a much more worthwhile use of time. The student wanted to know when during his time in public education would he be learning about American History? (When, indeed? The answer is every day you’ve been in public school, but maybe not as intentional as it should be?)

Wow. Where to begin?

First, there is a logistical response. In my school district, 8th grade Social Studies covers Ancient World History. It’s not what the state recommends, but the curriculum is in place, and has been for many years before the state determined the curriculum. I don’t know more than that, and can’t seem to get any more answers that what I just wrote. Ultimately, I’m not sure that it matters, but I would like to know where students are coming from and where they’re going through high school.

Next — it’s very important to learn about Ancient World History, Ancient Civilizations, and Mythology. Mythology is the Greek word for “story.” I’ve said this many times, and had my students repeat that learning about the first stories, the ones that connect all of humanity, connects all of us through time, cultures, and build our background knowledge in a myriad of pathways and inroads. A young student cannot begin to appreciate the sheer force, the will, the absolute shoulder-to-the-grindstone effort it takes teachers to try to provide and enrich as much background knowledge as possible.

I gave the example that even in a pop-culture magazine; there was a mention of Mariah Carey and her ‘Greek chorus.’ How cool it was that we just learned what a Greek chorus was, and if he had been reading that article his brain would have comprehended the writer’s intent and allusion much more quickly (cue student’s blank stare). I went on to explain with another example about movies, and modern stories (more of a light-bulb moment). If you know “it,” no one can take “it” away from you, and you use “it” every day.

We have discussed in our classes the connection between Greeks/Romans and their political system breakthroughs, and how those breakthroughs influenced the great minds of our American forefathers (who I still think really, really, got it right – go Constitution! Go Bill of Rights!) We as a nation only veer off-course when we interpret their very just laws for a “few people” and not all, when any one branch of government gets too powerful and uproots the rest of the tree in the process.

I wanted to give his question the time and fairness it deserved, but the contemplation of the question even overwhelms me, puts me on mental overload, because I do think, I do consider, I do ponder, question, and wonder. The real question is: how do I get my students to ask, to ponder, to answer their own questions? I should have just put it back on him, but that’s not always fair. There’s got to be a place I can point to start them out on their inquiry journey; then, it’s up to them.

So – here’s the challenge for my students – why don’t you tell ME why you’re learning this? Are you being fair to yourself, just sitting back and not taking charge of what you’re learning?  Ask the questions, and demand an answer.