So What Should We Be Amazed By?

I wrote a blog post a little while back called This is Not Amazing, and the basic thrust of it was that, after more than 30 years since “the personal computer revolution”, more than 10 years of living in a post-Google World, and now almost a full decade into the 21st century, that we should stop being so amazed at things which are simply just part of our normal world.  The post gave a few examples of things that are, quite frankly, pretty average tasks that can be accomplished on a personal computer and it relayed the story of how I had a day where I kept getting told how “amazing” these rather mundane tasks were, by people that were, in my estimation, too easily impressed.  I tried to tie that all together by observing that we probably do our students a great disservice by being easily impressed by technologically ordinary things, since this is pretty much just the world they live in. I think when we ‘ooh and ahh’ over things that are simply just a regular part of our kids’ worlds we make it all too obvious that we are a little out of touch.

The comments on that post were a very interesting collection of responses; from those people who nodded their heads in total agreement, to some who felt I was being a bit condescending and impatient.  That certainly wasn’t my intention.  I must apologise for not responding to some of the comments at the time… It was the end of the school year, I had a few personal things happening at the time, and I got sidetracked in moved the blog to a new server shortly afterwards. In all of that, I didn’t properly follow up on the ideas raised in that post, and I feel I really missed the opportunity to engage in more discussion about it.

For reasons that I’ll tell you about later, I’m interested in pursuing a further response that blog post.  In particular, I’m wondering what sort of things you think SHOULD be “amazing”?  For the record, I truly believe that the world is a wonderful place with lots of incredible things going on in it, and that we should most definitely retain a childlike sense of wonder, curiosity and awe when we see things that amaze us.  I just think we need to be careful about being too awestruck by things that, really, are now just a standard part of our digital landscape.

I’m trying to build a better understanding of what people think deserves to be “amazing” (and maybe what doesn’t).  If you wouldn’t mind, could you drop a comment here about anything you’ve done with your students that you think really does fall into the “That’s amazing!” category.  I would really appreciate it.  Thanks!

Image: ‘Crowdsource

Crowdsource

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5 thoughts on “So What Should We Be Amazed By?”

  1. I recently had my Physics students invesitage the doppler effect by recording the sound of a whirling tube on an iPhone, downloading the form to garage band and investigate the sounds in the program. This was a great lesson I thought

  2. Amazing is relative; personally, it’s when something exceeds expectations.

    My example is not technologically-amazing, per se, but amazing in my opinion nonetheless.

    When I announced to my y7 maths class that the next topic was Algebra, the collective groan could be heard kms away. My solution: YouTube, Rihanna and my piano-playing attempts.

    I wanted to learn how to play ‘Unfaithful’ and though I didn’t baulk at the 8-page long music sheets (also from the internet), I was struggling. Then, I showed them this video explaining that the music itself was divided into three parts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_1eZN8ZYAs). I learned the 3 parts, figured out the combination and in a short time, I could play the piece – memorised it even.

    Showing patterns (crucial in learning Algebra) in Music, using some technology to aid my learning, and picking a song they liked…this my students found amazing and paved the way for an enjoyable unit. I consider it a personal achievement that my class said they enjoyed Algebra. Now, isn’t that amazing!

    btw, having been an ICT-professional for years, I perceive technology as a mere tool …use it well, it’s great; use it badly, someone can get hurt (well, almost). Now a teacher, I still feel the same way. My challenge as an ICT integrator (as well), is to help others see what really is amazing…more often than not, it’s in the application of the tool rather than the tool itself.

  3. My little rushed ramble:

    It is amazing that technology has come so far in so little time. People who are not engaged with various IT applications on a regular basis can very quickly lose touch.

    As for our (Australian/NSW) schools, they vary so widely on what technological tools are available to teachers and students that the more out-of-touch people are, the more amazing they are going to appear when they finally encounter them much further developed.

    I feel for the new teachers coming into our school because each year there are more processes and procedures to learn, mostly technologically based. We forget how far we have come. When I started at my school 6 years ago we had a couple of computer labs, some classrooms with computers in the annexes and some laptops that could be borrowed. The school issued every teacher with a laptop but mine was so slow I used my own instead. We now have several computer labs, brand new buildings purpose-built for technology, increasingly more applications used to communicate with parents and students and I now use the school-issue laptop. This is amazing!

    A lot of technologies are not new and amazing for our students since they have grown up with it. We need to be careful as teachers to acknowledge that. Having said that, however, there are many technological applications that our students are ignorant about and it is our job to show them the amazing tools they can use. I know my students were amazed as I showed them how I used Twitter, during an #edchat session. They knew about Twitter, they use MySpace and Facebook, but they had never seen how social networking could be useful for non-social purposes. They also had never blogged before and we (teacher and students) have been amazed at the useful connections our blogs have formed.

    For students to use technology effectively we need to be passionate and embrace their applications, because the world is an amazing place and the more we break down boundaries the more enlgihtened we become.

    Let us all go on this amazing journey together, in harmony.

  4. I am amazed every year by the student to student communication that happens through International collaborations. In the United States we tend to be way too insular, with all our news basically ‘about us’ and news of the rest of the world colored by how WE are affected or what WE are doing.

    When students start connecting with real students in other parts of the world, they learn to look at things from a different perspective. One striking example this year happened when (as they were talking about their world and how to save it for the future) the discussion wound around terrorism. Understandable, since both India and the U.S. have experienced attacks. One student in India took us to a different level of thinking as he used the phrase “poverty is a global termite”. He went on to explain how this ‘termite’ eats away at the spirit and makes the poor ripe for terrorists to use.

    This left a lasting impression on my kids who have spoken of it much — even to their parents! They’re looking around now to see what they can do to help exterminate this “termite” before it eats away at our world.

    Now that’s amazing.

  5. Hi Chris
    Two things:
    1) Tranformation in a child seen as an outcome of a topic study. I am speaking about those times when students come to a new understanding, appreciation and perspective. They are truly changed and it is like they ‘own’ what they have been studying.
    2) Global classroom collaboration where the students engage in a project with other classes that makes the world a better place for others to live in. I have yet to really be apart of a project like this but are looking for
    possibilities.

That's all well and good, but what do YOU think?