Friday, January 8, 2010

The Challenge

I spent $10 on an iTunes giftcard and put out a mass email: First one to tell me who said this and in what year wins an iTunes session with me and the card. It was answered in under 2 minutes. Within 5 minutes I had 15 answers. Throughout the day I would have more than 25 answers and more than 3 "off-topic" conversations. More on the unperceived value of this challenge later, let me tackle my initial concept.

Here's the first quote pertaining to how we learn:
"...the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child's powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself. Through these demands he is stimulated to act as a member of a unity, to emerge from his original narrowness of action and feeling and to conceive of himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs." 

What is the first thing you think of after reading this? Someone recent started ranting why IT should open the firewall back up on Facebook, right? This person must be talking about social media in the classroom.

What if I told you this was John Dewey in 1897? If you are still rolling your eyes at the quote then it would be akin to a physicist rolling his eyes at Einstein or Newton.

Dewey makes an example shortly after this quote about how a baby learns to speak. They start babbling but soon learn to control those babbles and form them into more precise sounds as their social surrounding dictate until they are able to form the sound "daddy" and connect that to their father turning around and giving them attention enough times that "Daddy" becomes the name of the father.

So... If our social demands and language is changing (again back to my mission as a tech specialist - what I'm constantly telling you) and our learning is based on "stimulation of powers by the demands of social situations" then how important is it to be involved and working within the demands of that social climate? Essentially, there is a younger generation that is beginning to speak a completely separate language that is more rich than you can keep up with and they are - in all reality - with out the ability to speak the language of the other generation.

But why is that important? Shouldn't they just tone it down and zone in and "if they want a grade then they'll listen up"? My mission is to get you to understand that this is not a fad or a use of toys and entertainment devices, this is an evolving language!

If I still haven't gotten your attention, then I want you to sit down in a classroom to learn something you have no idea about, and the teacher will ONLY speak a Shakespearean English. You will be required to listen up and follow along. You know every single word, none of those words are non-English, I mean, Shakespeare had about a third of the vocabulary you have, so you should be able to follow along.

Something I've learned from this is the reverse. I'm speaking a hyper language and expecting a lot of you to run to my videos and even this blog and learn and run with it. But you aren't speaking this language. So what did I do about it?

Well, jumping off of my last blog, I used a classic marketing technique. I gave away a free iTunes card and created a buzz. The buzz was about two separate things:
1.) it might be worth it to open Jacob's email immediately - it will have good and quick info anyway; and
2.) Who said that and when did they say that?
-- Which inevitably leads to a.) you having some buy-in to read my blog based on your previous interest and how easily you were able to come up with the info (so many more people participated since it was easy to just copy and paste the quote into google without even reading - you wouldn't have if you would have had to look it up in the library) and;
b.) wondering what the heck I was getting at with a quote from John Dewey in 1897.

What can you learn from my Challenge in its delivery method? How could you apply that? Have I gotten you interested in looking at social media as not a toy yet?

***Next blogs: 1.) affects of the challenge and the "off-topic" conversations
2.) At least a third of the people who answered gave the guilty confession "but don't count me, I used Google." .... wwwhhhhaaaaaaaaat?!?!

Oh! And here was the other quote from John Dewey in the challenge:

"...these interests are neither to be humored nor repressed. To repress interest is to substitute the adult for the child, and so to weaken intellectual curiosity and alertness, to suppress initiative, and to deaden interest."

What's that make you think?


  1. Good job Jacob. Very interesting approach.

  2. Good blog, Jake! I would also posit that the advent of new technology has accelerated the process, and will only accelerate at an exponentially faster rate based on the accessibility and speed of the technology used. We could go off on another arc here and talk about how communication hardware (which forms the basis of this new socialization) is marketed, and that the successfully marketed tech will be the one that drives the form of the "language" used by succeeding generations. So, can we really pull apart the power of consumption to drive the type of language young people are speaking? And that begs the question...are we able to teach young people that these methods of communication and socialization can be swayed by the strength of powerful marketing?

  3. Trying to maintain communication with two daughters (24 and 27 who are finally glad their mom does text messaging) has enlightened me to the new language over the last two years. It will be interesting to see when/if it becomes acceptable use in the corporate world.

  4. @Bert - that's an incredibly interesting arch too... the idea that our language, as it is accelerated by moves in marketing, will ultimately drive the way we communicate. The very fact that "googling" something is an acceptable word and form of fact finding is a testament to that. How far away is it when we will be "sitting down to have a nice iPhone-ation with a distant cousin" in a world where we already Tweet multiple Tweeples?

  5. @Debbie - I actually think that it has become acceptable. In the corporate world we are rewarded by how fast we are able to communicate and get to information. There really aren't too many more companies not taking it seriously, it's just bad for business. And as our current students enter the workforce, those with the fastest and most direct communication will succeed and bring their technology and ways with them to the head of the company. Which is why it's so important we start giving our students these opportunities to see they aren't just using frivolous toys but are truly powerful tools!

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  7. @Bert - I also just realized more on your point. The fact that I'm using the "@" symbol before your name to signify who I'm talking too is really a brand new form of communicating more clearly brought to us by Twitter! A company has directly shaped the way we communicate through the way their system is set up!

  8. Never be guilty to Google it! That is our Technology Given right! Except entire research articles that is a jumbo no-no.

    The question to ask was participation for "free stuff" or the technology 'free' stuff or just the thrill of competing?

    As far as technology and repression....I think as we get older we force ourselves into repression with technology. Yet 15+ years ago electronic mail was just a new fad that was not in our comfort zone. When we see our students/children with such new gadgets and tools we need to pull ourselves forward than away. Speak that language. How is email any different than a BLOG or Wiki or social media? This is the communication method of today that will become our/the collective tomorrow.

    We just are too busy with life to focus and learn this technology, unless it is forced upon us, so let's get with it people! Hey Jacob got a spot for me?

  9. What is driving the "power of consumption"? I believe we need to teach them that marketing is everywhere and that they are being swayed by the strength of that marketing. Perhaps we should be talking more and more about how that marketing colors our thinking as well as how we spend our money, how we treat each other, and what ideas we sell our soul to. Certainly, each of our own fields has its propaganda.....what is the propaganda of the social network world? It got a president elected! (Please do not think I am saying that is a bad is an observation.)It is through the eyes of my "intellectual curiosity and alertness" that I watch and consider this phenomenon. Does this mean we should not learn the language? Of course not.