Exploring the intersection of technology and the arts

I have never seen this before

I have never seen this before.

How many different times and in how many different ways have I heard this statement from a student? It is as if this statement somehow invalidates the legitimacy of what we are doing, or provides a free pass to accomplish little or nothing. It comes across as a complaint, but it should be an exclamation. Hey, we are finally doing something different, and I am learning something new!

Exposing students to something they have never encountered before is the essence of teaching; it is what education is about. But I recognize it is an uncomfortable place to be cognitively. It may be that I simply need to do a better job of reassuring students that they are up to the task. All learning is connected to previous knowledge. When possible, I make these connections known, but every student has a different set of knowledge, skills, interests and abilities, so it is a challenge to make every topic relevant and meaningful to each student.

When students say “I haven’t seen this before,” or “We haven’t learned this yet,” should a teacher get defensive or excited? I think we should be getting excited and communicate enthusiasm to our students that we are on the brink of learning something new! Unfortunately, I think sometimes complaints can bring a certain defensiveness, particularly in the later days of a calendar year, when the days are growing colder and shorter, a semester winds down and you look back at how much was (or wasn’t) accomplished. But in teaching there is always a new semester on the horizon, and new opportunities to do things a little better.

It might be a little early for new year’s resolutions, but one resolution I am making for my teaching in the coming year is when I hear “I don’t know how to do this,” or “We haven’t learned this yet,” I will be respond with enthusiasm, “Isn’t that great? You get to learn something new!”

A Lesson in Persistence

About two years ago, Katrina Lewis and I submitted a paper to a small, regional computer science conference held in my state on the subject of Halloween pumpkin carving as a design activity.  Here is what one of the reviewers had to say about our proposal: This would be an interesting presentation at a graphics/art pedagogy conference,Continue Reading

Star Wars Uncut: Empire Strikes Back

Around three years ago, my digital media students and I worked on scenes from Star Wars Uncut : Empire Strikes Back edition. I submitted a couple of scenes for consideration, and one with my son Thomas was accepted. You can see him eating ribs at around the 9:46 minute mark. I’m still waiting to learnContinue Reading

Inspire Her Mind

This video from Verizon suggests that the messages we are sending to girls push them away from math and sciences. I have a girl who is in middle school, and seems to have lost some of the love of learning in these areas, not because she’s been discouraged at home. I think it is muchContinue Reading

I Can See My House!

Evidently, a neighbor of mine purchased a new quadcopter and filmed our neighborhood this week. This video shows a pretty good view of the whole town where I live.. I think he’s planning to use it as part of his farming operation to inspect his crops. Recently, I spoke at the Arthur Capper Ag CooperativeContinue Reading

Manual Dexterity of Millenials

A couple of weeks ago I made a presentation to a group of agricultural cooperative CEOs about the implications of technology in rural communities along with implications for future employees. I talked about a number of things that I usually discuss, including the use of social media and the Internet as tools for doing businessContinue Reading

Life’s Paradoxes

I have been reading Viktor Frankl’s classic, Man’s Search For Meaning recently. My daughter, who is struggling with the novel assigned in her 6th grad reading class, asked my about the book I’m reading. I told her it was assigned for a class I took several years ago, but admitted that I never actually read itContinue Reading

The Contest Nobody Could Win

This is a mash-up of six songs, one second each. In the classic sitcom episode WKRP in Cincinnati: The Contest Nobody Could Win, disk jockey Dr Johnny Fever accidentally promotes the entire year’s prize budget as the prize, instead of the $50 it was supposed to be, so they had to come up with aContinue Reading

Reimagined Roadsigns

This is a visual communications assignment we are working on in my Digital Media 1 class. The idea is to take an ordinary road sign and reinterpret it to show what is going on beyond the sign’s borders. I love playing with negative space, so this is what I came up with on the fallingContinue Reading

Don’t Know How

One of the biggest mistakes I think people make is waiting until they know how to do something before they begin. This is especially a problem in our information-rich world. If you hesitate, if you wait until you are fully qualified to begin, it might be too late. Get going now! Don’t worry ’bout whatContinue Reading