Monday, December 24, 2007

Spending Christmas Eve Worshipping Danah Boyd

So. Freaking. Smart.

Today's youth have information at their fingertips, but they are constantly being told that this information is inherently flawed and that they should not use it.

Wikipedia certainly has its flaws, but it's not evil. In fact, it's an ideal site for learning how to interpret information. Consider California History Standard 11.1.2 where students are supposed to learn about the cultural dynamics behind the American Revolution. The view from the American and British history textbooks is quite different, yet, the English Wikipedia entry has to resolve these two perspectives. Right now, teachers say that what's in the textbook is right and what's in Wikipedia is wrong. Imagine, instead, if teachers helped students understand why these two differed. Imagine a culture where information is collectively valued, but youth are taught the skills for interpreting it and evaluating it rather than simply being told that everything in the information ecology that they inhabit is "bad" simply because it's not in traditionally vetted sources.

This is a personal pet peeve of mine because if educators would shift their thinking about Wikipedia, so much critical thinking could take place. The key value of Wikipedia is its transparency. You can understand how a page is constructed, who is invested, what their other investments are. You can see when people disagree about content and how, in the discussion, the disagreement was resolved. None of our traditional print media makes such information available.

Somewhere, Paulo Freire is smiling; Boyd just took apart the banking model of education (the idea that the human brain is a simple storage unit for lists of facts that the teacher is responsible for transmitting) in a very accessible way. Furthermore, Boyd obviously values critical thinking, something Freire is also a bit of a fan of.

I need to re-read The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

But only after I finishe Anne Bishop's Pillars of the World series - it is fantastic.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.