Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Daniel Hand High School's Chinese Culture Day...

I had an opportunity to wrap up today's Celebration of Chinese Culture at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, by speaking to 150 juniors and seniors. I'd prepared a "multi-media show" for the students, hoping I could get them engaged at the end of an interesting day, but the last period of any school day is always a challenge on the "engagement" front. The title of my talk was "China Rising - What students need to know about cultural participation in the 21st century."

Alas, the technology failed me or more appropriately, I failed the technology. As I regularly make my rounds presenting topics on 21st century concepts to school district groups, I find incredible dis-similarities in technology topologies from district-to-district. There are no "universal standards;" only "local standards." This may work for curriculum design or teaching practices, but I don't think it's the model we need for railroads.

Imagine taking a train from New Haven to Stonington, and having to change wheels at each town border because there's a different track guage imposed as a "local standard." That's what being a traveling presenter is like in the world of education.

Oh well. It's not a complaint, mind you. After all, who'd have thought 10 years ago that the Internet and web technology might be as "pervasive" in public education as it has become? For me, it's always a risk to raise expectations about the power of new media to inform, by planning on using that very media as the basis of my school presentations. But risk is inextricably part of the message, said best in this short verse by an unknown author:
To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your ideas, your dreams, before a crowd, is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To believe is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing do nothing, have nothing, are nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by their attitudes, they are slaves; they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

1 comment:

Mr. Moses said...

Steve - Sorry to leave this here, as it has nothing to do with this post, but I couldn't find another way to contact you and I wanted to say thank you for writing this blog. I've found what you have to say and what you are doing inspirational.

I mentioned you on my blog today:


Again, thanks for doing what you're doing and keep fighting the good fight.