> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: Persuasion

Thursday, February 08, 2007


'Knowing the price of everything, the value of nothing'

That’s my grandmother talking about young people. And it’s one of the reasons I am a teacher. I want to teach the value or importance of things not just the ‘prices’ or facts about them.

Wanting to be a better teacher led me to blogging. I see young people using new technologies with enthusiasm and I want to use them in my teaching. Of course I’ve realised that this stuff might come naturally to them, but not to me. Apparently they are, according to Marc Prensky digital natives. And I am a digital immigrant.

I’ve got an immigrant’s technological ‘accent’.

There are hundreds of examples of the digital immigrant accent. They include printing out your email… needing to print out a document written on the computer in order to edit it and bringing people physically into your office to see an interesting web site (rather than just sending them the URL).'

Well, I’m a tiny bit more fluent than that, thanks to my recent forays into technology.

I’m learning too. The way we teach will have to change. Some of the skills we were taught just don’t fit any more. Remember all that stuff we were taught about how to study –‘find a quiet place’ etc? Well the natives don’t need that. Nor do they like waiting to receive information. They expect to be able to get the information immediately.

But they need us to help them develop critical thinking skills, so that they can process the stream of information that pours through their lives. And they do need our affirmation and encouragement as they face the bewildering world of today.

I am scheduled to teach Jane Austen’s novels Persuasion and Emma, to a group of seventeen year old boys. My colleagues are slightly amused by my predicament. When the class was planned, it was mixed, larger and well, distant.
The lads are bright. But how on earth do you convey the world of Emma, whose sister ‘though comparatively but little removed by matrimony, being settled in London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyond her daily reach’?

I’ve had an idea: I’ve given each pupil in the class the task of presenting, via any media they like, one background aspect to the novels of Austen. I have promised to film and publish online their efforts. Watch this space.


Ewan McIntosh said...

Sounds like a great project. Are *they* allowed to present in any way they want or will it be written form?

David Gilmour said...

I have difficulty enough in conveying the world of my younger days to my children. I'm not convinced they really believe that I've lived through a time before microwave ovens, colour TVs and calculators. Anyway, I started wondering where I'd start with this... found that the Jane Austen Society of Australia has pulled together a useful page on understanding Jane Austen's world. There are a few things there that I'd imagine might get the attention of the boys.

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

Ewan, yes, in any form.
My goal is for them to do a bit of research on the background - I've handed out topics, e.g the historical events that run alongside Austen's life, the philosophical and literary movements which she would have known,rationalism, romanticism etc. They will then give a tutorial or presentation in any way they wish to the rest of the class that should last around 15 minutes.
I'm not looking for a written record, but want it to be recordable -perhaps as a powerpoint or podcast or short film.
I will be learning with them.
Appreciate your thoughts.

David, thanks for this, will have a look.