Life as I know it

My husband gets a kick out of me.
I'm glad he still finds my quirks funny and not annoying.
The problem is that I love talking about how we learn, which, of course, involves how we teach. Whether it's a Tweet from The Washington Post about homework

Kids, Parents and Teachers Disagree on How Much Homework Is Too Much –

Researcher Cooper says studies show that up until fifth grade, homework should be very limited. Kids in middle school shouldn't be spending more than 90 minutes a night on homework. In high school, the limit is two hours, Cooper says.

or a link via a colleague about an open, free online international university, I immediately click, read, and start chatting with him.

"How much homework did you have in fourth grade?" I ask.
"I don't remember," he says.
"WELL, this says we should limit high schools students to two hours," I say, mulling over how much I assign, whether our students really have two hours of homework a night, and how we know whether our homework assignments truly help students learn.

Suddenly, I'm wondering if learning is possible without homework, or if our new schedule means they have less. Then I flip my brain to Alfie Kohn, or John Medina, or Carol Sweck, remembering what I've read recently about brain research and learning.
The other night I kept him at the table arguing about Shirky's book, telling him that the ease of collaboration and sharing had changed the way many people view institutions, authority, and structure. I shared this from a recent post on The Chronicle Review:

Wake Up and Smell the New Epistemology

One of my students put it this way: "It is imperative that someone studying this generation realize that we have the world at our fingertips — and the world has been at our fingertips for our entire lives. I think this access to information seriously undermines this generation's view of authority, especially traditional scholastic authority." Today's students know full well that authorities can be found for every position and any knowledge claim, and consequently the students are dubious (privately, that is) about anything we claim to be true or important.

Contrast that with 50 years ago, when students would arrive in awe of the institution and its faculty.

He just sat there and smiled.

He's not there yet, but he lets me go on and on.
My RSS reader has more than 300 blogs, feeds from four major news organizations, various shared items,and feeds from my students' blogs and wikis.
Google Reader (892)

Sigh. No wonder I can't sleep.
I find it all fascinating, and the more I read, the more I think. People wonder how I have the time to keep up with all this, but I tell them it's what I do. I don't like to cook or garden, paint or watch television. I do run and workout everyday, but… learning about learning is what I enjoy.
So, on our first snow day of the year, I look forward to catching up with this and this today. I will also create a screencast about wikispaces for our teachers. There are also several podcasts I haven't had a chance to listen to yet.
Someone once said to me, "Get a life."
My response? Thank you. I like my life just fine!

6 thoughts on “Life as I know it

  1. I share your passion for learning and teaching but not your lifestyle :) and I appreciate how generous you are in your understanding of those of us who have other priorities. More than anything I love having you as a friend with whom I can share all this enthusiasm and pondering, though I am not always “on the same page.”

  2. Susan,
    I can relate very well to your love of learning about learning, though I have oft wondered how you kept up with so much! This love of learning about learning has been a passion of mine for the past several years, particularly as so much is changing and it has become so easy to be a self-directed learner myself. I can also relate to the husband who doesn’t really get it yet! Mine is still trying to figure out where his wife who used to talk “all things corporate” with him and tend to little children has gone. (Well, the kids are now 18 and 15 so life is changing sweetheart!)
    Glad to know you love what you’re doing and learning. Thanks for sharing the ride!

  3. Laura, thanks for your kind and thoughtful reply. Of course, much of my learning comes from you and others in our PLN. This has been an amazing year, and I look forward to seeing what happens next. One day I hope we can meet again! Maybe in Atlanta:)

  4. Susan,
    My wife often asks where that man who used to eat, sleep, and breath books and tattered writing journals has gone. She, too, has to bear many a conversation initiated by me that begins with “say you are a teacher who….” and help me wind it out to full conclusion.
    I’d like to address your Reader quote from above with something I pulled from Howard Rheingold’s media class at Stanford. Here’s a quote:
    “Getting sucked into RSS or feeling obligated to keep up with all the unread feeds that accumulate, is a common hazard — I have to police myself, lest I spend all day following links.
    So part of finding, filtering, storing, and using the right information entails learning tools like Technorati, RSS, social bookmarking. But the tools are a liability if they swamp your attention.”
    My reader regularly sits at something nearing 200 unread items, which even a few months ago would have sent me over the edge in a mass “Mark all as read” frenzy. Now, I look for themes and poke around in Twitter to see where and who I want to read. And I truly appreciate Rheingold’s sentiments about the tools as liability idea.

  5. Yes, Patrick. You are quite right (as is Howard, whom I also respect).The phrase resonates with me, and I am trying to keep it in mind. My diigo account is filled with information I have yet to get back to, and that’s a problem. What good is it if I sort and save if that is all I ever do with it? But I am certainly enjoying figuring out how to manage all of this.
    Thanks for sharing Rheingold’s thoughts.

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