Yesterday, as I scanned through my twitter feed, I came across this post by Lisa Noble – @nobleknits2 – about her experience with social networks and her own personal experience. It is a great example of how social media can have a powerful influence on lives. However, Lisa’s final few paragraphs at the end had me pondering.
This experience was a “game-changer” for me, at least in part because I watched my own kids become completely engaged in this process and take on some of the ownership of the experience. I realized how involved they are with my PLN, because I share things I’m learning with them. None of us have ever met Kim, but we’ve gotten to know her, and know we can ask her questions and call on her knowledge if we need it. That’s what I want to share with my students.
How do we take very personal experiences and relationships and bring that into a school setting? Can we create the same type of experience that Lisa and her children had, because of the nature of the situation, in classrooms? Do we need to? Do we have to recreate all life experiences in the classroom? What responsibility do we, as educators, have to provide students with this type of experience? Is it the relationships that we need to help our students see?
First, this is beyond what almost all people discuss when they talk about technology integration in the classroom. One of the key components of this is the personal relationships that have developed over time. Although the technology provided the means, it was the relationships that provided the foundation for what took place. For me, this is a story about relationships and life in which technology is part of the family’s life. If it hadn’t been, this story might not have taken place or maybe it would have taken place only locally. Some of our students have this degree of integration, some don’t. As Lisa points out,
How do I help students realize that while the Internet can be a scary place, it can also be a place of healing? How do I teach them to be open to this kind of experience, while still being aware of how to be safe?
Ah, questions with which all parents struggle, not only concerned with technology but so many other aspects of life – friends, sports, alcohol, relationships, sex,… And isn’t that what many of us, as educators, are trying to do – help our students with tough questions? Our subjects and curricula are conduits that provide us with the opportunity to connect and help our students with so many of life’s questions.
As a family, what took place was such a personal experience, one that involved so much more than just learning, a social network and some yarn – it involved the heart, memories over time, struggles of life and death and so much more. Finding one’s passion is a journey and, sorry to say, might not be realized while in school. We can help our students and introduce them to the tools, provide them examples and give them opportunity but, just like you can’t make a 2 year old eat green beans, you can’t make someone find their passion. We need to give our students permission to find their passions – and the permission to search well beyond school. Not all students come from a situation where they can take advantage, nor have the opportunity, to follow their passion right away. But, by providing them the tools and opportunity, we give them the freedom to choose – the ability to continue on their time not our and the encouragement to keep seeking. Not everyone has found their yet!