Friday, February 28, 2014

Bridging the Gap

Last week I had the chance to attend Social Media Week in New York City.  I got a day pass to Thursday's string of presentations, demonstrations and discussions.  Five minutes into Meredith Kopit Levien's (she is the Executive Vice President, Advertising for the NY Times) on the "Art and Science of Storytelling" a long-held personal belief was reaffirmed.  I have always believed that a barrier cannot exist between the professional world and education.   Furthermore, education cannot exist in a fiercely protected bubble, isolated from changes happening outside the walls of a school building.

I'm sure I am not alone when it comes to this opinion.  In fact, justification for the Common Core is to ensure that K-12 students are developing college and career readiness skills.  Even though there is an intense effort underway to make sure our students can successfully compete on a global level, what is being done or what should be done to make sure educators truly understand how the business world is changing?  There are educators who come to teaching from "industry" but this is not the case for what I assume are most k-12 educators.  I would imagine (having never done any official study) that a majority of k-12 teachers have only worked in education.  This reality presents an issue when it comes to making sure students are career ready upon graduating or after 2/4 years of post-secondary schooling.  

Finding ways to bridge the divide between education and commerce is critical.  For me, last Thursday was a perfect opportunity to gain insight into the world beyond schools.  The presentation by Meredith Levien was more thought-provoking than deconstructing reading and writing anchor statements.  In sharing how the Times views storytelling, Meredith Levien juxtaposed an article posted on the Times website from the 2004 olympics in Athens, Greece to articles posted about the games in Sochi.  For an example from the 2014 games Meredith Levien referenced a profile the Times did on American skier Ted Ligety.  As opposed to the piece from 2004 which relied heavily on text to express a point, the profile on Ligety relied on a multimodal approach to demonstrate the way in which Ligety has come to dominate Giant Slalom racing.  Through leveraging a variety of communication mediums, the Times is able to present to readers Ligety's significance to the sport of skiing.

While sitting in on Levien's presentation and certainly afterwards, I was inspired to think about we approach storytelling with students.  Here was the NY Times, a globally recognized figure in the field of journalism, showing how storytelling has evolved.  I kept thinking about the idea of college readiness or whether we were creating an environment where students told stories in the same spirit as what Meredith Levien shared.  Having the chance to "live" outside of a school, even if it was for one day, provided the chance to view teaching and learning through a different and truly needed perspective.