Information Age Education Blog
What Can You Do and What Will You Do
This is IAE Blog entry #250. In recent months a number of the previous blog entries have been spiffed up by adding a “What You Can Do” section and more Suggested Readings. Many of the Suggested Readings are from more recent dates than when the blog entry was written. A number of typos, spelling errors, and errors in grammar have been corrected. There is now more uniformity of design, with most of the entries conforming to the template given at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/template-for-information-age-education-blog-entries.html.
From my point of view, an IAE Blog entry is good if it accomplishes the following:
- It attracts and holds the attention of readers, and it gets read with understanding.
- The content fits in well enough with the reader’s current knowledge, skills, and interests so that constructivism can take hold and the reader makes meaningful additions to his or her knowledge base.
- The reader decides to make use of his or her newly enriched collection of knowledge and skills, and is in an environment or can create an environment in which this is possible.
Now, go back and reread the title of this IAE Blog entry. It is a little tricky. In any problem situation that interests and concerns you—such as the problem of improving our educational system—you have some things that you can do. The question is, what will you do?
One possibility is to ignore the problem. You might decide that your level of interest (concern, ownership) is quite modest and passing. You can decide that it is someone else’s problem and you will ignore it.
It is easy to decide that “they” (others) ought to do something to solve the problem. It is easy to make suggestions of what “they” should do. The “they” might be a person, a group of people, an organization, a company, a government agency, or so on. Once you have stated your opinions and declined to personally help to solve the problem, you can go on and think about other topics.
Alternatively, you can decide that your level of interest and ownership of the problem is sufficient to motivate you to do something that may help to solve the problem or reduce its seriousness. That leads us to the important question, “What will you do?” What knowledge, skills, experiences, contacts with other people, money, and so on can you bring to bear? If you are a poverty-stricken college student, perhaps the most you can do is to send a few email messages or talk to a few of your friends and encourage them to get involved. This reminds me of one of my most favorite quotes:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed; it's the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead; American cultural anthropologist; 1901–1978.)
If the personal resources you have available are not sufficient to make a dent in a problem that concerns you, then think about ways you can use your personal resources to get others involved in helping to attack the same problem. The “Occupy” movement provides a good illustration. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/occupy-name-a-city.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_movement. People who wanted changes in a variety of ways things are done in their country, state, country, or city came together to protest and to call for change.
In my personal opinion, better examples are provided by individual people or small groups that select a quite specific problem, develop plans on how to address the problem, and then implement their plans. As an example, a small group of artists in my home town of Eugene, Oregon, have decided that the downtown area has a problem of not being as attractive as it might be. They are going from store to store, seeking permission to put artwork on display in the stores. They measure success in terms of the number of placements that they facilitate.
An individual classroom teacher may well be able to marshal help from his or her students and fellow teachers in addressing a school problem. A house owner or a renter may be able to marshal help from neighbors in addressing a neighborhood problem. Be creative!
What You Can Do
Make a small list of problems in our educational system. From this list, select one that really interests and concerns you. Analyze the problem, working to select a sub-problem of manageable size—one that you feel you could do something about.
Then, “Just do it.”
Of course, keep in mind the following quote:
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it.” (W. C. Fields; American comedian, actor, and juggler; 1880–1946.)
Learn from both your successful and unsuccessful attempts. There are a great plenty of other problems that can use your attention.
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you.
Deep insights into problems with our educational system. Seehttp://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/deep-insights-into-problems-with-our-educational-system.html.
Peer instruction fostering learning for understanding. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/peer-instruction-fostering-learning-for-understanding.html.
Purposes of education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/purposes-of-education.html.
School reform. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/school-reform.html.
Staff develiopment to improve education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/staff-development-to-improve-education-.html.
Sylwester, R., & Moursund, D. (August, 2012). Creating an appropriate 21st century education. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/243-creating-an-appropriate-21st-century-education.html and the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/242-creating-an-appropriate-21st-century-education.html,
We can improve education. Part 1: Asking the right questions. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/we-can-improve-education-part-1-asking-the-right-questions.html.