Monday, February 25, 2008

Is it Web 2.0 or are we turning into Educaterers?

I first heard the word Educaterers while watching the 1951 movie, “Goodbye, My Fancy”, staring Joan Crowford and Robert Young. Crowford is journalist Agatha Reed returning to her alma mater for homecoming, but if the truth be told, she never really graduated. Apparently she and Young, who is now the college president, were caught in a compromising position and Reed left before graduation rather than expose Young. Reed wants to rekindle the romance but finds out the college president has made a few too many compromises and has turned into an Educaterer, one who thinks students need puff and fluff rather than the true knowledge needed to make them think for themselves.

I have not seen this movie in years but its themes are constantly on my mind as I examine my own pedagogy. Recently I have been considering the term Educaterer because it seems that students are no longer taught to think for themselves. Do I prohibit them from doing so? Am I turning into an Educaterer? Am I giving them the tools they need to succeed? Am I demanding excellence? How do I tell if they are equipped for the future? Am I properly molding the next generation, the next electorate? What will be important for them to know when they graduate and go out into the market place for a job? I had a college dean tell me at a technology conference that I was not preparing students very well at all. He actually was speaking to everyone in the room but it made me start thinking.

He told of several students in an astronomy class not knowing the difference between a planet and a star and not knowing the names of the planets. Forget about Pluto being demoted, students are leaving our K-12 schools and don’t know the names of the planets in our solar system? Does that mean I am an Educaterer? I am not so sure. What I am thinking is that children are being bombarded with information. There is too much information out there that it is impossible for them to remember it all. Even Einstein didn’t remember everything. But he knew where to look to find the information he needed when he needed it. As a librarian, I can teach students where and how to find the information they need to know. I can get them so comfortable with searching that they can find information easily. I can make a difference in their lives by equipping them with technology tools and teaching them how to use them. Educaterers spoon-feed information. I am not an Educaterer. I am a librarian. The difference is that I show students where and how to find useful information and then teach them how to extract the good parts, so they have the information they need when they need it. I can also show them Web 2.0 tools that will enhance their education, not spoon-feeding but technology enhanced education. Finding and using information is not Educatering!

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