At least according to Dean we are.
Schools are text snobs. Most people reading this are text snobs. Our institutions are built around the written word. That in itself is not bad and we owe much of our culture, knowledge and understanding to the written word. It’s not our fault, we’ve been living in a world that up until a few years ago, only offered us to easily produce content via the written word. But like the revolution of the printing press, we are in the midst of a revolution of a digital nature that’s allowing us to easily create and consume context in many different forms, specifically audio, video and imagery.
And to exercise a little practice-what-you-preach, he includes some video and audio as part of the post.
I agree with Dean’s premise that we are not doing as much as we should in most schools to help students become better consumers of media, much less to enable them to become producers.
After all, we see kids wearing ear phones or sitting in front of some kind of screen (sometimes both) all the time. They don’t need any help in that area, do they?
Which, of course, is the same as saying that kids with their face always in comic books (or the Mad Magazine from my childhood) don’t need reading instruction.
Anyway, even when it comes to text, I’m not sure we do an especially good a job.
The way people in the real world create and use text has been changing drastically (along with everything else) yet much of our “language arts” curriculum is still focused on reading from the printed page and largely from works of fiction.
Writing in most schools continues to be centered around the classic essay and research paper, often on topics that are little changed from forty years ago, produced for an audience of one.
And, as Dean notes, traditional reading and writing is what gets tested, so that’s what get taught.
However, there are other reasons why audio and video are not used more in K12 classrooms.
For one thing, in the memory of most teachers, the process of recording and editing is still a cumbersome, expensive, technically difficult process. Sometimes even playing the files, especially video, used to be a cranky process.
It’s certainly not that way anymore, all of which ties into what I was ranting about a few days ago.
Too many teachers also reject having students create media because they believe the process must be time consuming and that the end project needs to be close to perfect.
With the inexpensive cameras (even still cameras do a decent job of video) and audio recording devices available, it becomes easy for kids to do first drafts on the spur of the moment and then refine by rerecording rather than spending hours in the editing software.
It’s also a simple process to capture and use the everyday classroom, not just special events.
One of my goals this year is to help more of our teachers to give cameras to their kids and to encourage them to create.
I also want to follow Dean’s lead to do more with video in my own professional life and become less of a text snob.
Just don’t expect to see me in front of the camera very often. (You’re welcome. :-)