I have a colleague, Nancy, who is part of the county team going to BLC09. I think she’s a personality type called an owl–she listens carefully in group conversations, speaks rarely, but when she does, what she says is incredibly insightful, thought-provoking and often downright brilliant.
At our recent team conversation (see previous post) we were talking about the conference themes and which ones we’d like to center on, how to go about it, and looking at a few logistics. Some of us in the group are avid tweeters, others have joined but not gotten into it, and others don’t even know it. Some of us have experienced conferences with backchannels going, some of us haven’t. I spoke to the power of backchannels (even had to define and describe what a back channel was) and was raving about how cool it was going to be to experience the backchannels at this particular conference. I talked a bit about how some of my twitterverse has shared about using backchannels in the classroom, and people were asking great questions and thinking about it. We talked about how this is a contemporary skill/practice and how we need to think through how this can be done in the classroom. As almost always happens when a group of innovators are thinking about how to move others along the continuum of technology use, someone said something about how teachers would say, “We don’t want them having backchannels in the classrooms.”
Then Nancy zinged: “Instead, we want to them to have it silently happening in their brain.“
SILENTLY HAPPENING IN THEIR BRAIN.
Does that not run counter to anything we know about learning? Does it not run counter to Vygotsky, to Bloom, to any name you can name in education writing? Does that not take the social out of learning? I don’t know about you, but when I can talk about something I am learning, it makes more sense to me. I make meaning out of it more quickly and more deeply. Shouldn’t we be providing our students that opportunity as well?
No wonder our kids are bored stiff and give schooling no quality points in their world. What gets the points? The social parts of school. . ..LUNCH. . RECESS. . .IN BETWEEN CLASSES. . .the classes where teachers set up collaborative projects, conversations, activities. . .
Maybe if we made school more social and made it NOT about “happening silently in their brains” we would get more buy in. Maybe if we listened more and talked less. . .maybe if we gave them the tools and supported what THEY want to do with it, then maybe, just maybe the majority of our kids would say they loved learning, rather than they hate school.
What about those backchannels?
We need them to keep it from