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Monday, January 20 2020
I am walking between the battle lines
I see many safe places to hide
I have chosen my side but I wear no colors
I yearn for the respect of my enemies
I exchange respect for tolerance
I am tolerated as long as I follow the rules
I am compelled to venture out into the open
I yearn for joy
I exchange joy for safety
I am safe as long as I keep my distance
I yearn for peace
I exchange peace for monotony
I learn to find comfort in my daily tasks
I yearn for relevance
I exchange relevance for anonymity
I am hiding between the battle lines
I am hiding in plain site
I make no demands
I make no waves
I make no difference
I yearn for meaning
I exchange meaning for futility
I am easy to discourage
I have been neutralized
Posted by: Rob Overton AT 09:23 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 31 2015

My son's school recently considered installing a classroom set of computers in response to parent's desire to incorporate technology in the classroom.  I do have concerns with the idea of a mobile set of computers available for use in the classrooms, but my concerns are not with using the computers in this way.  I absolutely think that computers should be utilized in the classrooms, but not just as an occasional project.  This would constitute a partial deployment of technology, and would essentially shift the burden of leveraging technology to the teachers rather than the administration.  I can envision a scenario in which the computers are rarely used which would be presented as proof that the need did not really exist.  Or, a few teachers will get excited and use them heavily which would make them unavailable for other classrooms.  I could also imagine that the administration might ration the time on the computers to allow for more students to use them, which would eliminate the student's ability to effectively use them for ongoing research and problem solving.  Bottom line, this represents only token acknowledgement of the issue and seems designed only to placate those who are frustrated by the refusal of the school administration to incorporate technology.  Is this better that what we have now?  Yes.  It is just not enough.


I would like to see technology integrated into the curriculum and

education process of our school so that our kids will learn how to thrive in the context of their lives. 


I would rather see technology integrated into the curriculum and education process so that our kids learn how to thrive in the context of their lives.   I don’t think we need courses on how to use computers.  Instead, I would rather see us provide instruction on ways to solve problems using a wide variety of tools and methods, which includes technology.  It seems rather short sighted to me to think that we can teach relevant problem solving techniques while we shut off technology as a viable tool.  Technology does not have to be, and should not be, the focus of the education process.  The world into which our kids are heading as they leave our homes is a place where people need to know how to use technology to their advantage in order to maximize potential.   Where should our kids learn these skills?  Am I, as a parent, forced to watch my son use a library to research and then hand write a paper and then teach him how he could have done the project more efficiently using technology?  This seems to make a bigger deal of technology in it’s absence.

When my oldest son started high school at a different school, they were just beginning a one-to-one notebook program.  He learned to organize his work and take notes on a computer and there was a concerted effort on the part of the teachers and administration to incorporate technology into the classroom.  He learned to effectively use his computer to research and prepare for debate tournaments as well as his regular classes.  I really don’t think that the school could have supported the debate program without the technology.  Of course there were issues and the administration had to learn to deal with the many challenges that come with the technology.  Some teachers embraced the opportunity while others did not.  But even in classrooms where the teachers did not integrate technology into their teaching methods, the students were still able to take notes and prepare assignments using their computers.  Over time, the program matured into a supporting part of school life as opposed to a focus.  This trial and error process worked because there was a strong commitment from the administration to incorporate technology.  Without this firm resolve, the program would have been scrapped after a few setbacks.  The school was a pioneer in this area as there were not very many models for them to use.  Now, we have the advantage of numerous schools who have tackled this issue before and we can avoid a great many false steps. 

Questions about life skill development:

  • How do we teach our kids to value privacy in a world where they live their lives in public view?
  • How do we incorporate our Christian witness into our online personas?
  • How do we learn to exercise restraint from viewing content available on the internet?
  • How do we balance our virtual time with our physical time with our friends?

Questions to explore:

  • How do we leverage Social Media in the educational process?
  • How can communication be enhanced using personal technology?
    • Parent/Teacher
    • Student/Teacher
    • Teacher/Teacher

Barriers:

  • We have traditionally banned personal technology when we could have been helping kids learn how to manage it.
  • If given an option, most teachers will not incorporate technology into their classroom because it is not something that they fully understand.
  • Teacher education and encouragement would have to be a part of a successful integration project.
  • If the administration is not convinced that the integration of technology is essential, it will fail.

Benefits of acting now:

  • The emergence of Tablets and ChromeBooks dramatically lowers the financial barrier to entry of technology in the school. 
  • We are able to observe many successful models of incorporating technology into the classroom.
  • There are significant benefits to this approach even if kids are only in it for their senior year.
Posted by: Rob Overton AT 07:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 05 2011

Herb Weaver might just have been the most influential man that you have never heard about.  His influence has been felt by many thousands of people all throughout the world although he rarely left Texas.  Herb's influence was due to his passionate, if not fanatical, investment in the character of boys and young men.  He invested the entirety of who he was into the practical training training of leaders who would themselves influence large numbers of people. 

Herb was not easy to listen to.  His speaking style was slow and halting and it always seemed to me like it would take him forever to make his point.  But he understood how important it was to equip leaders with the essential skills and knowledge that they would need in order to mold the hearts and minds of people.  He taught me that what a person knows is meaningless unless they make the information meaningful and applicable to their audience.  When I was in high school and a part of his RA Staff, he taught me to always incorporate "spiritual applications" into whatever I was teaching.  He forced me to think about how building a proper campfire equated to building a proper life.  This really became second nature to me and there are things that I say and do after all these years that I can trace directly back to his teaching.

His primary ministry was through a program called Royal Ambassadors which is a missions centric ministry to boys in many Southern Baptist churches.  RA's, as it is known, has a motto which I can still quote by memory.  To me, it sums up the life and character of Herb.

"As a Royal Ambassador, I will do my best to be come a well informed, responsible follower of Jesus Christ.  To have a Christ-like concern for all people. To learn how the message of Christ is carried around the world.  To work with others in sharing Christ.  And to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body."

Herb was as selfless and humble a man as I have ever known.  He lived his faith out in the open and in a way that was challenging.  I am thankful to God for allowing me to have him as a mentor and a friend.  I had the huge gift from God a few months ago when I ran into Herb at the UBA offices after I finished teaching a class.  We sat and talked for quite a while and I had the chance to tell him how grateful I was for all of his support and teaching as a young man.  He brushed it off as was his way, but it was a huge blessing to me to tell him how important his work had been all these years. 

Posted by: Rob Overton AT 08:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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