By Jamie McKenzie
Across the land, English and Language Arts teachers are under increased pressure to meet challenging objectives set by state curriculum standards. To meet these thinking, problem-solving and communicating standards, it pays to involve students in seeing how these skills are practiced in the world of work outside of school. As much as possible, it makes sense to involve them in such work, either through internships, visits, interviews or simulations.
Keynote Title - The Brave New Citizen
New technologies promise all kinds of great miracles like stronger thinking and better writing, but it turns out that many of those promises amount to Fool's Gold, according to Jamie McKenzie, unless good teachers and good schools combat much of the marketing and pressure to substitute templates, wizards and short-cuts for careful research, logic and questioning. In this keynote, Jamie demonstrates the perils and the promises of new technologies as they may promote and nurture desirable citizenship behaviors or do the very opposite, spawning a generation content with the glib, the superficial and the well-packaged. A former social studies teacher and school leader, Jamie warns against what he calls the onset of "mentalsoftness" characterized by a preference for platitudes, near truths, slogans, jingles, catch phrases and buzzwords as well as vulnerability to propaganda, demagoguery and mass movements based on appeals to emotions, fears and prejudice. He shows how mind-mapping, strong questioning and the pursuit of "difficult truths" are the antidotes to the cultural drift.
Workshop - A Digital Sandbox? Wondering With and About Numbers, Words and Images
With the Net offering a rich harvest of data across information types, schools must equip students with the skills to wonder, to ponder and to synthesize, making sense of research findings, climate data, economic data as well as news articles, photographs, paintings, poems and a wide range of sources. Jamie offers practical strategies to strengthen questioning and learning capacities.