The aggregate impact of individual choices
Individual choices add up. For example, at the moment when I eat something
unhealthy, it seems like a fairly trivial thing. Over time, however, those
calories and pounds add up and one day I look in the mirror and have to admit to
myself that I seriously need to lose some weight.
Individual choices have collective impacts on society too. For example, the
decision of an individual family to move from the city to the suburbs may be a
completely rational decision, made in that family's self-interest as it looks
for a nicer house, a bigger yard, etc. But over time, the collective impact of
those choices in most cities is white flight and a
concentration of economically-disadvantaged families in city neighborhoods and
schools. Similarly, as
this PowerPoint shows, individual family choices to have a student attend a
new magnet school can result in other schools having greater concentrations of
students with lower social capital (because the other students' families often
don't have the means to navigate the magnet school choice system).
We see the same thing when it comes to technology usage by teachers. A few
days ago I asked
Given the realities of our modern age and the demands of our
children's future, is it really okay to allow teachers to choose whether or not
they incorporate modern technologies into their
Many of the
comments to that postrightfully insisted that teachers must make the
decision whether or not it makes sense to utilize digital technologies for an
individual lesson or unit. No one wants teachers to use technology for
technology's sake and no one wants digital technologies used in inappropriate
But the collective impact of all of these individual teacher choices, often
made by teachers with little pedagogical fluency with digital technologies, is
much like my weight loss example above (or Mike Schmoker's example of the 'Crayola
Curriculum'). Any individual choice seems quite
rational and/or trivial at the time. At the end of the year, however, we look
back and see that most students have little meaningful or substantive
interaction with learning technologies, which of course is of particular concern
for disadvantaged students who have limited opportunities outside of school to
use technology at all, much less in creative, interesting ways.
So I think we need to be more purposeful. We need mechanisms for reminding
ourselves that being relevant to students' technology-suffused,
globally-interconnected futures is important for schools, and we need a greater
shared commitment to make deliberate, intentional choices to seek out
opportunities to integrate digital technologies into lessons. Sure, we can teach
any individual lesson or unit without incorporating much technology. And, to be
honest, for many teachers this would be much easier and more efficient /
effective, at least in the short term. But if we don't pay more attention to
this issue and change our practices and our mindsets, we will continue to look back at
the end of each year and realize that we let our students down yet again when it
comes to their 21st century learning needs.
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Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
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