As you might have noticed, I recently changed this blog's template. The text area is wider, and the font is larger. There's also a nice background image of a field and a trail leading up a hill. It's been a little while since I've posted regularly to Mr. B-G's English Blog. This is certainly not for a lack of ideas or a lessened desire to be a participant in the dialogue. Rather, obligations for my master's of educational technology degree with Boise State University have taken up much of the time I used to dedicate to blogging.
As part of a "culminating activity" for my degree, I will need to create an electronic portfolio full of blog post reflections, discussions, and "artifacts" from each of the 10 courses which will comprise my degree. So far I'm about halfway there, ready to begin my fifth class, "Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology," in a couple of weeks.
Aside from my EDTECH classes, I also took an online course from Kent State University this past June called "Teaching Photoshop." It was a great way for me to overcome my fear of using some of Photoshop's more advanced features. Each week we had to create a project that utilized a variety of tools and filters. The lessons built on each other, requiring us to truly grasp earlier concepts if we were to have any success on the more complicated projects.
As far as learning tangible skills, it was one of the best online courses I've taken. I'm excited about the opportunity to help my students take their Photoshop know-how to the next level.
So, yeah. Graduate school. That's my excuse for not blogging as frequently. It's certainly valid, but it's not the sole reason. Truth be told, so many of the harmful developments in education, and the hurtful and derogatory ways teachers have been portrayed in the media and, subsequently, treated in reality, have given me pause about the number of years I have left in this profession.
Could I still end up spending my entire professional career in education? Sure. Does the possibility of doing something else also entice me, especially in the wake of the testing craze and the blame-teachers-for-all-the-ills-of-society rhetoric? Yes.
This summer I taught myself how to build a computer. So far I've built two complete systems, with two more in the queue. I've really enjoyed the process of specing out a unit, amassing the components, and then putting them together so they function at an optimal level. It's very rewarding to be able to take the steps from concept to creation.
As a kid I was interested in making things from salvaged or second-hand parts. In fourth grade I created an "inventor's club" at my elementary school, which featured regular meetings and trips to area museums. It was neat stuff, being on the cutting edge of an idea or the implementation of a theory. One "invention" I recall involved ripping the guts out of a standard walkie-talkie and retrofitting it with parts from old radios to boost the performance.
After changing out a few things and stringing 20 feet of wire up a large evergreen tree in my backyard, I was able to listen to and speak with truckers on their CB radios. I remember this being quite awesome, especially because it was made possible by my own tinkering.
I hope to return to this space more frequently as I work out my own feelings about where public education is headed in this country, and what my role will be. Shall I stick it out and work to be an implement of positive change (assuming this is still actually possible), or will politics and an edu-corporate agenda drive me to test the waters of free enterprise?
Stick around to find out.
Pine Tree image by chikachika72