Information on the Professional Development Day Keynote speaker, Mark Prensky
For those of you who remember Liz’s presentations about Digital Natives, where she used this video (made in 1999), next Friday (January 17th) teachers are going to hear all about Digital Natives from Marc Prensky, the author of Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning (Corwin, 2010)
We assume they will also learn more about his term: imag-u-cation
Reading and Writing, According to Prensky
Teachers and parents don’t have to worry about teaching reading or math anymore, and if kids are struggling with reading, a computer can do the reading for them. Prensky asks:
“In these digital times, is it still worthwhile to teach students how to write by hand, calculate in their heads, read, and define words and concepts . . . Or is that like teaching kids how to hunt for their food? That was useful—once.”
“In a world where you can point a scanner at any text and hear it read to you at any speed in any language, in an age when more and more ideas are distributed only on screens, do we still need to teach reading the way we do now?”
Further, Prensky asks why would we have kids write an essay on Romeo and Juliet (well, if they had a computer read it to them, that is) when, “the tweet ‘Romeo and Juliet is an ironic, poetic, and emotional look at how misunderstandings and societal problems can turn innocent love into tragedy’ reveals a depth of understanding.”
Why indeed? According to Prensky’s writing, the gist of Shakespeare’s tragedy is all captured right there in exactly 140 characters.
Parenting made easier?
As Prensky writes, “When my 2nd grader needs to know the meaning of a word, I tell him to use my iPhone to ask Siri, an artificial intelligence program that’s always happy to look it up for him.”
Technology, the key–when it works
Prensky makes another point: ”So when young people say, ‘When I lose my cell phone, I lose half my brain,’ they mean it literally. And they’re right.”
Per Prensky’s logic, this means that Douglas County teachers and students are working with half their brains at any given time, since DCSD’s internet is notoriously unreliable.
Prensky has thoughts about areas other than reading and math, he includes science as well: “The only way to do almost all science today is with technology. No human can handle or analyze the volumes of data we now have and need.”
Does this mean that teaching science is not really necessary anymore, now that we have computers?
Great news! All of our kids can score perfectly on standardized tests. “Teachers would no longer have to “teach to the test” because technology can.”
Prensky writes: “Instead of guarding high-stakes state achievement tests as if they were state secrets until the day they’re administered, why don’t we use technology to ensure that all kids can get nearly perfect scores by permitting them to take the test only after they’ve mastered the app?”
Prensky’s vision of our country’s future?
Does this make sense? Kids don’t really need to hunt for food anymore, so why would they need to write, read, define words or calculate anymore? Are we comfortable with this vision for the future leaders of America? Do people want the lawyer writing up their wills to only be able to use “pithy paragraphs and tweets” to get the point across. Gone are the days of lengthy speeches that contained words that defined our nation, like I have a Dream or Ask not what your country can do for you?
While some may believe that teaching reading, writing, and math is becoming obsolete, some of us may still believe this:
Perhaps a pool should be started about how much this appearance is costing the district? According to his website, he is here for a two day professional development workshop. When determining your bet, you should know that all teachers will be bussed to and from the Douglas County events center, the events center will charge for the space rental, and Mr. Prensky probably has a pretty hefty speaker’s fee. Who wants to make a guess? The winner will be determined by the soon-to-follow CORA request.
You can enjoy even more Prensky-isms at this website. All the Prensky quotes on this page are taken from his article, Our Brains Extended. The article is quite lengthy, not written in pithy paragraph or tweet, nor, disappointingly, in a haiku.