How important is mastery of a language other than your native language in the world today?
Australia has recently chosen to give all Australian students access to at least one “priority” Asian language (see below).
My mother was a first-grade teacher; my sister taught in high school and college. My father-in-law and brother-in-law were high school principals; my sister-in-law taught in elementary schools. I have a long-standing interest in building and crossing bridges that connect teachers and learners of different ages and from different cultures. I continue to discover and marvel l at internet tools that facilitate “learning without borders.”
While I blogged for a year at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online as “Curious David” one of my most valued colleagues in learning was a middle school teacher (thank you Pamela, for all you taught me). I find considerable value in monitoring the blogs of Richard Byrne, Steve Johnson, Larry Ferlazzo, and of course the ubiquitous Jane Hart.
Recently I have begun investigating the capabilities of epals and edmodo as tools I might use to reduce barriers between learners from different cultures (including academic cultures) and different ages. The payback has been immediate both in developing of new virtual friends and of being impressed at the amazing kinds of learning experiences our children are being introduced to. I am becoming quite impressed by the teaching/learning capabilities of learnist.
Sunday I had a wonderful Skype session with my nephew, Andrew Bowman and his family now living in Switzerland. The video was crisp — he was using an IPad mini and I was sitting by my MacBook Pro. The sound was clear and the technological glitches were minor. I still need, however, a few more practice sessions with some old and new international friends (Thank you, Irma Milevičiūtė, for your patience, kindness, ideas, and assistance as I begin learning through Epals about the wonderful work you do in beautiful Lithuania!). I still need to master how to record Skype sessions and to practice embedding such conversations into blogging software such as WordPress. I’m also eager to compare Skype with other Skype-like video conferencing tools (e.g. Google plus hangouts and Oovoo).
I’ve rediscovered Curtis J. Bonk’s book The world is open and I am pondering to what degree I want to infuse my courses with global awareness and connections before I retire—or afterwards!
Here are some incipient thoughts I am exploring. I welcome YOUR thoughts and reactions—especially those of you living in other countries.
- I see a need and many opportunities to increase global awareness of my students through the use of media such as BBC News, Google News, and Newsvine. I was thrilled last week when one of my student research collaborators in the “Pioneering a Virtual European Cultural Immersion Course” project Phoumany Phouybanhdyt alerted me to some of Carroll University library’s global news resources she had learned about in her World Politics class.
- I’m very much interested in investigating how I might become a member of (or associated with) Etwinning. My thanks to student research collaborator Catrina Duncan who first brought this potential resource to my attention and to my new and old European friends Irma Milevičiūtė and Reidar Ommundsen who pointed me in some directions on how to join.
- I’m debating the value of incorporating Kiva or some such international charity/ service component into the classroom to reinforce global compassion.
- To what degree should I explore global views of religion, spirituality, and being?
- How essential (and what degree of mastery is essential ) for our students to learn non English languages? What should be the role of tools such as Google Translate and Livemocha? I am always humbled at the mastery of English of my international friends and embarrassed at my own failure to master the basic elements of their beautiful languages.
- Does it make sense to incorporate into my courses, where appropriate, cultural universals such as music, cusine, sports, and literature? So much to think about, but I enjoy thinking—and I welcome your thoughts in particular about what are ideally the key elements for an international cultural immersion experience. Looking forward to your comments.
I’m becoming quite excited about this research project with my S-Team students which involved their creating a “virtual” European cultural immersion experience. So far we have created a Wiki on Wikispaces, built a Ning, and begun to establish international contacts. I’ve discovered, through Epals, tremendous global education resources and made a new Lithuanian friend who has already taught me a lot and reinforced my belief in the kindness of people throughout the world. Tomorrow I try Skyping to Switzerland!
So much to learn—together.
I’m beginning to find myself handicapped by the limitations of TypePad and motivated to explore the additional “power user” features of Word Press. Thanks to Jane Hart for extending her Ten New Tool Challenge and her blog software comparison activity for nudging me into this transition.
From time to time I disconnect, disengage, from seemingly always being online. It is easier to so do during the summer, since I opt NOT to teach or commit myself to grant work during that time. As author Naomi S. Baron acknowleges in her thoughtful book Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World, one needs to be alert to the personal, cognitive, and social consequences of “24/7” connectivity.
Is Google making us “stoopid” (sic) or smarter? How can I ever find time to explore, evaluate, improve the 3000+ learning tools which Jane Hart has alerted us to? How can I avoid being pushed off the edge of the “Edgeless University?”—-or should I resist?
I resolve these questions by stepping back, engaging in intense physical activity, reading widely, and consulting the Newf!
On the Internet No One Knows that You are a Newfoundland.
It was good to be sitting at my office desk at school today. Spring semester classes don’t begin until Wednesday, and I had an unusually large amount of uninterrupted time to clean the office, organize materials,discard last semester’s uneaten lunch, and think about my three courses. Precious moments of uninterrupted, focused reflection, planning, and action are rare for me once classes begin, because I choose to have an open door policy for students and colleagues.
I’m teaching Introductory Psychology (after a one semester hiatus) for probably close to the 100th time. I taught it as a graduate student at Ohio State and I have taught here at Carroll a number of summers and evenings in addition to almost every semester since February of 1978. Indeed, this coming semester I shall yet again be teaching a daughter of one of my former students. In some ways Introductory Psychology is the most difficult course for me to teach. Most students are not majors, and it is a challenge to simply and with integrity condense a discipline I have explored for for almost forty years.
This semester, influenced by some conversations I’ve had with several colleagues and students, I am going to incorporate several innovations.
- a section on cross-cultural psychology which will occur at the time that social psychologist Richard Nisbett is speaking on campus about the “Geography of the Mind” (see my earlier blog).
- having students read and respond to some of my future (and some of my older “Curious David”) blogs that deal with psychological topics. I may create a special wiki for them.
- involving students in some fashion with research I shall be conducting with 12 seniors. I am toying with five research topics—the effects of color on behavior, revisiting the “Mozart effect,” revisiting “subliminal” persuasion, evaluation research (e.g. the efficacy of Rosetta Stone software), and systematic evaluation of Web 2.0 learning tools. As the President of this institution is fond of saying, “stay tuned.”
Carroll truly is being enriched more and more by the presence of international students. Today, while photo-copying, I struck up a conversation with a student from Brazil. Last semester I had the delightful experience of learning with and from a student from Vietnam. A former graduate school classmate of mine has just become an editor of a British journal. A Norwegian friend who mentored me in 1974 has just published a book. My discipline is finally becoming more culturally aware, much less chauvinistic—see Arnett, J. J. (2008). The neglected 95%: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychologist, 63, 602-614— and recognizing that the world is indeed flat. How exciting; what fun!
There is much about which to be curious.That is vital to keeping me playful, energized, and wanting to teach and to learn.
Thanks to my incipient readership. Based on statistics I can monitor, I am already attracting a readership base at a higher rate than I did writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last year. And this without Mom’s help!
Keep those comments and feedback coming either through posting or by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enough for now. I’m dog tired.
On the Internet no one knows that you are a Newf