Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen to Analog!

Now no offense to Lawrence Welk. I have fond childhood memories of watching the show on our analog TV with my grandfather. I remember the bubbles while the big band played, the pretty singers in the flowing pastel dresses, the young female Mexican singer, and the African-American tap dancer.  When I think of it now, Welk was ahead of the game in terms of multiculturalism. He featured minorities as regulars on his show when most shows in the 60s were not. Maybe that was one of the many reasons Welk's show became a hit with American audiences. He was progressive! However, that was in the 50s and 60s!  Some people reading this blog may not even know who Lawrence Welk was, which serves as a case in point.  When it comes to teaching and learning, many schools are still operating in the Lawrence Welk era...students are still being required to sit in quiet rows; answering questions at the end of a textbook; forbidden to speak to each other, or even to the teacher for that matter; forbidden to ask questions; bored to tears listening to monotone lectures; copying notes from poorly lit overhead projectors; forced to answer multiple choice questions, and fill in the blanks on worksheet after worksheet, and punished to write lines, or behavior modification essays at the slightest sign of dissension. The Lawrence Welk era came and went. It served its purpose for our needs then, and maybe it didn't because we didn't know better. But when we realized there was something better, we embraced change. When we discovered that there were "Moves Like Jagger", and our needs were no longer being met, we created and searched for ways to do better. We progressed. Our lifestyles and perspectives evolved; we said "adios" and good riddance to so many aspects of society that the Welk Show represented, and we embraced something different: we embraced progress.  However, how have we truly progressed inside our classrooms since then? It's human nature there will be those who forever argue life was better in yesteryear, and that teaching and learning of yesteryear was superior to ours. They are not wrong because society then is nothing like society now.  Students then are nothing like students now. However, inside our classrooms, why do we hold on or revert to antiquated methods, turning on Welk and ignoring the rock and roll?  

If we were to visit every American school classroom, public and private, how many schools do you think are still tuning in to Welk rather than Maroon 5? ("Moves Like Jagger" reference full circle here, and another case in point if you're over 40 and have no idea what I'm talking about.)  If you're an educator of children, tweens, teens or young adults, it's essential that our classroom culture and technique is not a relic of the past, but a constant thriving and evolving source of inspiration where the next generation discovers their voice and identity, and is not held hostage by our own.  

As Lawrence Welk and his singers used to say every night:  

"Here's a Wish and a prayer that every dream comes true":  

Be not afraid to use at least one web tool in your classroom per week. Remember you can't break anything by clicking and pointing; the majority of web tools are super user friendly; you won't lose data as long as you remember to save it beforehand. You will save time; you and your students will have fun in the teaching and learning process, and most all, you will engage and challenge students to think so everyone can have "moves like Jagger" and not Welk.  Sorry Mr.Welk! Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen to analog! (P.S. For those under 30, these words were part of Welk's "Good Night" song lyrics.)

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