Papermate vs. Ticonderoga
Mr. Spencer's cartoon, posted in his blog "Adventures in Pencil Integration" is a mock of the "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC" campaign. I'm almost sure I understand the comic, but there may be an underlying meaning. Then again, I could be completely over-thinking the concept. This comic refers to a Papermate as cheaper, yet it breaks all the time. The Ticonderoga is a more expensive pencil and "the most expensive purchase a hipster will ever make." To me, a "hipster" refers to someone who often tries to swim against the current, not cautiously examining their decisions but simply trying to be different. The Papermate is "mainstream" and boring. I think you could tie this comparison in with technologically advanced teaching and "mainstream" education. Teaching with technology may be advanced, it may be more expensive, and it may be more work, but you and your students will benefit more from taking the road less traveled.
Adventures in Pencil Integration
The posts in Mr. Spencer's blog, Adventures in Pencil Integration, comprise a "satirical story" of an era in which common technology does not exist while going against the ideas of the "emerging, factory system of education." Mr. Spencer's posts can be difficult to understand if the reader is unsure of Mr. Spencer's objective. In my opinion, this is Mr. Spencer's way of critically examining common education and his effort to move towards 21st century education.
The post titled, Why Were Your Kids Playing Games is a dialogue between Tom Johnson, the main character, who, according to Mr. Spencer, "is searching for authentic learning" and the principal. In this posts, the principal receives word that Tom Johnson had been playing games in class rather that teaching. To Mr. Johnson, he was engaging his students, however, the principal was worried about meeting standards and believes that what Mr. Johnson is doing is a "stretch" from learning. The principal is focused on what the Drill and Skill Consulting Group (sounds a lot like "burp-back" education to me) thinks rather than the fact that Mr. Johnson wants to engage his students in learning.
To me, this scenario can be related to education today. Too often, teachers who are excited about learning and education get shut down because of local standards and dates, goals, etc., that have to be met. The principal in Mr. Spencer's Adventures in Pencil Integration could be compared with many principals today who are worried about how well their school will do on the next standardized test. In the case of Mr. Johnson, he, like many teachers, want to engage their students instead of drilling them with facts. However this is sometimes hard to do. Teachers must find a balance between what they have to teach and the methods that they want to go about doing so. At the end of this particular post, Mr. Johnson does just that. He incorporates what the principal told him to do with his own way of engaging his students. He called it "The Factory Game" which is what he was doing with his students to begin with.
I also read the latest post in Mr. Spencer's blog. It's title was "Remember Pencil Quests?". In this post, I wasn't completely sure if this was Tom Johnson speaking or Mr. Spencer himself. I'm thinking it's Mr. Spencer speaking because of the content of the post. In the beginning he is recalling a time in his schooling when students were sent on a Pencil Quest. He remembers being extremely excited just to be doing something outside of the common classroom setting. Even though now we look back at Pencil Quests as being simple, at least Mr. Spencer's teacher was attempting to do something that was innovative at the time.
Mr. Spencer's closing comment to this post surely made me think about the future. He said he wonders what students in the future will "...consider to be quaint." I also feel like my students, when they are adults, will look back at SMARTboards and blogs and feel as if they are simple classroom techniques. However, being an innovative and progressive teacher is what is important.
Admittedly, it took me a while to understand Mr. Spencer's blog. However, after reading about the context, characters, and conflict of his story, I was surprised by his clever idea. I thought this blog, although hard to read at first, is an excellent critique of modern schooling. Mr. Spencer is a bright man!
Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?
Mr. Scott McLeod is the Director of Innovation at Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8 and is the founder of the UCEA Center for Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). He also hosts the website, Dangerously Irrelevant as well as several others.
I enjoyed reading the post assigned by Dr. Strange. This was a sarcastic punch to technology illiterate parents and educators. By reading this post, I gathered that Mr. McLeod is definitely in favor of technology in the classroom and believes that children who are exposed to the wonders of technology will have a better advantage over those who are kept from it. When I wrote my comment on Mr. McLeod's post and as I read the comments of other students, I was slightly amazed that some students missed the point of this post. Mr. McLeod was, by no means, saying that he was opposed to technology. His poem was summarizing some of the ideas that technology illiterate people posses and eventually stating that if these people wanted to keep their children away from technology then that was fine. However, he knows that his students and the students of other teachers who use technology proficiently in the classroom will have an advantage over the others.