MPS, Social Media and Education

This post is a response to a series of “Tweets.” Things unfolded like this:

I wonder how twitter could change k-12 education? Meeting with educators last Friday–only kids use social media. Schools block it. Ideas? – [JHTaylor (link to Tweet)]

@JHTaylor RE: Education I have a ton. Most centered around the use of these tools after school. – [SocialMilwaukee (link to Tweet)]

@SocialMilwaukee Would like to hear more. [JHTaylor (link to Tweet)]

Here’s the more… 🙂

Why You Should Listen To My Rambling

I’m probably going to swear a little bit while writing this post and [not pull punches when expressing my feelings about MPS] ([Milwaukee Public Schools]). I thought it would be a good idea to share WHY it’s worth paying attention to what I say ([besides my genius] 😉 ).

  • I attended MPS schools from kindergarten to graduation of high school (K-12).
  • My mother has taught at MPS practically my entire conscious life, first as a substitute, then as a full-time teacher (she retired in 2007).
  • I really am a genius (to one extent or another). [The New School for Community Service] arranged for me to take Calculus and Physics at UWM my junior year of high school. I mention this not to flex my mental “bling”, but to show that I represent a population of students that are TOTALLY neglected by MPS. The super-fucking-smart-ones-that-know-how-fucking-BULLSHIT-the-system-is-thus-refrain-from-doing-any-homework-yet-get-called-“bad”-or-“lazy” variety.
  • I spent one year at [Marquette University High School] and can compare my experience there to my experience at the two other high schools I attended.
  • I spent 5 years teaching ESL/EFL (English as a Second/Foreign Language) in Taiwan so I know how to teach. (Note: I also know how little having a 4 year degree goes towards ones ability to be an awesome teacher.)
  • I have the experience of being a young Black male that is fluent in Mandarin Chinese but unable to easily acquire a job at the MPS run school the [Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language]. (Note: The principal called this past Friday and offered me a job for this coming fall. I still want to do it but (un)fortunately I’ll be getting A LOT more than $20-30/hour for my time by then. I still might do it anyway. 😛 .)
  • I worked for about a month at LaBrew Troopers and… *sigh*

I’m sure there are more reasons, but I’ll stop there. If you’re not convinced that you should continue reading by now then I don’t think I’ll be able to convince you.

Milwaukee Public Schools Suck

MPS, in my humble opinion, doesn’t even deserve the S to stand for school. Suck is much more appropriate. MPS is a fucking embarrassment to the city and should be destroyed. I’m appalled at what gets to carry the title school here… *grits teeth* OK. I think I’ve gotten that out of my system. Allow me to get to the subject at hand.

Social Media and Education

You specifically asked how Twitter could change K-12 education, I’m going to talk about Twitter and social media in general. Also, I’m not 100% sure if your “any ideas” was in reference to “how twitter could change” or “Schools block it.” My response to schools blocking it is to reach kids with these tools after school and eventually starting my own school. Now lets look at how these tools could change K-12 education.

Twitter

Imagine the school of the (very near) future where the teachers and students are on Twitter (or a service like it) and are all following each other. Imagine a student at home with a question about an assignment. Imagine that student hitting Twitter and getting answers first from classmates and then from the teacher confirming what the classmates told him. Imagine an enthusiastic classmate creating a YouTube video answering the question in detail.

YouTube

I suppose I’ll just segue into YouTube from there. What’s AWESOME about online video is that someone can do an OUTSTANDING presentation of something once and it would be available to everyone FOREVER. Boom, finished. I’m not super impressed with the video as I threw it together from what I call “manic inspiration” but [my video explaining the supply and demand curve] SUCCEEDS (for some people) where hours in class FAIL. This is important. Why? Because the students are the teachers as well (when given the opportunity).

OK… I’m starting to lose steam. lol I’m going to wrap up with some closing thoughts and links and whatnot.

In Closing

We are failing our city’s (nation’s?) youth and need to correct this IMMEDIATELY. There are solutions to the problems that won’t cost billions of dollars either. Right now “Social Media Based Education” is happening EVERYWHERE naturally WITHOUT “TEACHERS”. Take for example what happened on [a video I recently uploaded teaching people how to sign up for Twitter]:
Social Education

I decided to chime in as well, but do you see what happened there? Collective learning. I think the work of Sugata Mitra is phenomenal. If you’ve ignored every link up to this point, find 20 minutes in your day to watch [the TEDTalks video about his hole in the wall project (Can Kids Teach Themselves?]).

There is SO MUCH out there… Why isn’t there a school (or at least a class) in Milwaukee testing the [$100 laptops]? Has any MPS teacher applied to be a Google Certified Teacher via [Google for Educators]? Is there an MPS school that has tried using [Moodle], [Blackboard] or a program like it ([here’s a nice little comparison of the two I found])? How many teachers are doing something as simple as recording “cliff notes” from class and posting them to YouTube for review from home? Is there any at MPS follows blogs like [Open Education]? The list goes on and on…

Sorry, I’m getting angry again, but FUCK MPS. It’s bloated piece of shit as are most things that get touched by the government…

I’m SERIOUSLY fucking pissed at what we do to (inner city) kids. We pack them in bullshit schools. We give them NO fucking skills that are worth a shit… *grrrrrr*

I’m fucking done with this post.

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7 Responses to MPS, Social Media and Education

  1. armkaleka says:

    well said, well stated… even though we didn’t need the credentials up front 😉 your thoughts and clarity will speak for you in the cyber world, right?

    okay… now to respond/add+on/critique and discuss.

    MPS has definitely not been up to snuff, especially in the past 10 years. I taught 3 years in MPS after undergrad and spend my K through 12 there. The problems are super simple to point out, but very hard to fix: lack of resources and an overpopulated student body is problem #1. Problem #2 is the overall lack of reverence for teachers in the US.

    of course, by lack of resources, i mean classrooms, buildings, books, laptops, desktops, food, etc. etc. however, for the sake of this post, we will stick to Social Media Based Education >> yes, there is a lack of it. >> please see the above post of some great examples of integration into the system. They were genius!!

    now to move forward, let’s fix the problem. it’s unfounded to blame the gov. for public schooling, especially the federal gov. when most of public education is local, regional, or state run. Thus, like most problems in a state run system, the responsibility lies in the state. The people that make up the given sector bare the responsibility to fix and modify their schooling. Of course, in this case, we are talking about Milwaukee and Wisconsin and their taxpayers.

    the fix: bring the value of education up to top priority, over economy, over war-making, over going out on Friday night to have some drinks with your friends, over sports, over entertainment, over religion… over everything! Education is the frontier that we must all invest into.

    The day that Americans value education over Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and American Idol, is the day that this system can thrive again. I say “again”, because there was a time in the not so distant past, that public education in America was on the rise. The 1960s were a great time. Schools were being built everywhere. In fact, most of the Milwaukee Public Schools were built in this era. However, afterward, even though the student population blew up, not many new schools were built. sucks for students!! sucks for teachers!! sucks for the whole society.

    thus, build more schools! put buildings all over the place. bring the ratio of students to teacher down to 9:1 ( here’s a good link on research: http://tinyurl.com/7xqd2o).

    taking the teachers out of the situation is not the answer. Pushing teachers to be more resourceful with their time and getting students to acquire much needed creative critical thinking skills is the answer.

    in the Japanese/chinese/indian cultures, the teacher is revered as a master (even if they are too old to pick up a bamboo stick to properly fight). this reverence is lacking in America, and in some ways, is evidenced by the original post. If students/parents were to revere their teachers, then they would in turn learn more, and teachers would in turn, be more optimistic about their vocation. This vocation would become a “calling” (like the other countries I named), rather than a last ditch job effort.

    one more point here: i always argue that public school education generally leaves the acquisition of information up to the learner. by this we mean for FREE. This has it’s pros and cons. the biggest con of all is that there will be a sharp drop off from those that get up and do, and those that don’t. There will also be a laziness instilled in the teacher – who now, needs not focus on departing information/knowledge. the teacher becomes a glorified classroom monitor, hushing students and forcing them to look out for themselves.

    of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and there needs to be study after study conducted on the public school system and proper management and media integration.

    We will see how this all goes in the near future.

  2. miltownkid says:

    @armkaleka wrote “in the Japanese/chinese/indian cultures, the teacher is revered as a master. this reverence is lacking in America”

    I actually think is lack is one of the MAJOR problems we have right now. Teachers should be looked up to like sports stars. There is a major lack of the SUPERSTAR TEACHER! I think the system doesn’t facilitate growing superstar teachers, so superstar teachers move on to other things. Sad for everyone. 😛

  3. Magdalicious says:

    One thing that I find so frustrating is all employers and schools seem to care about is if you are certified… certified by the same bull system that is failing miserably as it is? How does that make any sense?

    The standards for educators should be based on the actual skills of teachers, not their blurry certifications. I have certifications and they don’t mean a bloody thing, almost everything useful I know about teaching I learned independently of ‘proper schooling’. I have met and observed many teachers over the years, some of the best I have ever seen have little formal education. And some of the worst are fully certified and qualified teachers. That is not to say that there aren’t a number of unqualified teachers that suck and a number of qualified ones that are amazing, my point is that the degree, certification or qualifications are NOT the determining factor.

    Sorry if that went off topic.

  4. miltownmom says:

    I understand why you rant about Milwaukee Public Schools, but what about your Spanish immersion experience? One of the reason the immersion schools are more successful is the stability of the student population–students can leave, but can’t transfer in after first grade. Also, the parents of immersion students tend to be more involved in their children’s education.

    Public schools are set up on a model of neighborhood schools. Unstable neighborhoods have unstable schools. Many children don’t receive support at home–sometimes not enough food, no regular bedtime, no help with homework, gunfire in the neighborhood. These social issues make their way into to the schools and some schools are better than others at responding. Successful schools have excellent leadership and a stable staff. Unfortunately, there is a leadership deficit in the public schools.

    Ranting about how the public schools suck isn’t a solution. Was La Brew Academy a model of excellent education? Why don’t you acquaint yourself with some teachers and/or schools, public or private, that are doing wonderful things. Examine why they work and spread that information.

  5. notaot says:

    I agree with everyone. Like MTK I had a horrible school experience (only 30 years earlier) the result of which was I quit high school in the second semester of my senior year. Ironically, I had some great teachers and I actually learned a lot (especially by today’s standards) but I couldn’t stand the fact that the “authorities” were more interested in seeing me toe the line than in helping me to learn.

    I think MTM is right on in saying that grumbling won’t solve anything and that there’s a lot to be learned from the good teachers that are being effective.

    MAG is right that too much emphasis is placed on credentials and ARM is right that education needs to be a top priority. But even more important IMO is that education needs to be cool. Right now it seems like being smart/educated gets you branded as elitest/geek/nerd and since public schools are as much about learning social interaction as anything else, it becomes cool to be dumb and popular.

    I’ve always believed that you can’t really “teach” anyone anything but that you can help, those who are motivated to do so, to learn. As the “What Does It Mean?” video points out, it’s almost impossible to teach anything specific these days because of the information “churn” so, it seems to make sense that we should be teaching kids how to think critically and how to learn new stuff on their pwn and why it’s cool to do so.

    Despite all the lip service devoted to education throughout our history, I don’t think it’s ever really been a priority for us. We seem content to teach kids the rudiments of reading and writing and running a cash register so they can be happy workers and we rely on smart motivated kids and their parents to help them rise to the top on their pwn and become our leaders. Hopefully, technology and the Internet and a little coaxing from some good teachers can help all kids learn and learn the value in learning. If it doesn’t happen here it will definitely happen in China and elsewhere.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too much like a rambling rant but you triggered the release of some stuff that’s been festering for 40 years.

  6. namahottie says:

    Miltownkid, if this rant is the tip of the iceburg, then I think you’re gonna have to find some serious chill pills when Arne Duncan gets into office. 🙂

    The U.S. educational system is about to get hit with some serious inadequate leadership and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

  7. namahottie says:

    P.S. MTK mom rocks it in her post. Dead on.

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