Are We Helping Or Hurdling?

This post has been rumbling around in my brain for awhile. I have even told a few people about the idea so thought I should actually start to write it. As the title implies, I think we need to ask ourselves this question. Is what we do helping our hurdling our learning and the learners we learn with? Those of you who know me can figure out what I believe.

Helping is when we provide powerful devices and resources for our learners and lead learners. Hurdling is when we only use them to fill out digital versions of worksheets. The cost associated with “digitizing” the process is embarrassing when so many schools do without textbooks, heat, desks, and qualified teachers in the world.

Helping is when lead learners use the devices and resources to change (As Alan November says) “Who owns the learning?”  Hurdling is when thelead learners pretends nothing has changed in 5 years with respect to how learners can learn with out us.

Helping is when lead learners help our learners to connect with authentic audiences. Hurdling is when we have to unblock sites so learners can connect and share ideas with fellow learners. Sure, the sites can be unblocked, but the fact it was blocked is a hurdle that will stop all but the most persistent lead learners.

Helping is when we think deeply about how to manage the internet so that our learners are not susceptible to the worst that the internet can offer. Hurdling is when the filtering is so restrictive that learners find ways around the management in order to complete work or learn something they are interested in.

Helping is when lead learners give ownership to learners to work on projects that interest and challenge them. Hurdling is when the learner needs to use another learners cellphone as a hot spot so they can watch the YouTube video on how to program their Raspberry Pi project. Real story for a real grade 5 learner.

Helping is when we pay for the full features of Nearpod with complete lessons including the latest in VR curated resources. Hurdling is when we then block the included YouTube videos from those crazy NASA folks that are curated and embedded in the lesson. This is when the horrible learning statement of “You can not do this at school, so do it at home.”, or see how learners learn to bypass the filters as above in order to keep learning. Why do we not trust learners and help them use these resources? What percentage of our learners would cause problems if we opened up resources? I believe this is a small percentage, yet the fear of what this percentage would do, prevents the majority of learners to benefit.  I think there is a large degree of making sure they did not see it at school if they end up seeing the underbelly of the internet. I suppose we only take them to the good parts of town as well. Maybe we should take a field trip to the nastiest part of town and let them off the bus without any adults since that is what we do when we say “watch it later at home.”

We need to be aware of how our best intentions of Helping do not turn into a growth in Hurdling for our learners. Over the years, I have seen younger learners having to solve the Hurdling obstacles put in front of the learning we seek to instill.

My focus remains on helping the lead learners and learners to reach their potential by having open access to the incredible resources our learning system is undergoing. Anything less is professional malpractice in my opinion. More Helping and less Hurdling.


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