For many years, Young Writers Project has the privilege of guiding a graduate-level exploration of technology and writing that we call the Digital Writing Practicum. And every year we ask the teachers to reflect on their year and to write a rant of sorts to outline what they need, as professionals, to help them do better as digital teachers.
This is one of the most extraordinary responses we have received. It is written by Rick Schluntz, a highly talented science teacher in the 7th and 8th grades. For nearly two decades he has made writing an essential part of his science curriculum. He has done remarkable things with kids and with our digital classroom platform. But he has needs. And his piece really makes you want to stand up and shout:
I need a curriculum that is an ocean deep but only a mile wide so that I can navigate the depth of topics and tie them into a world so complex that it begs for inquisitiveness.
I need to be assured that when I want to use technology to enhance my teaching that it is available and reliable and won't cut out at noon and not come back on until 2:30 when the tech department decides to do the virus sweep and the computers are as slow as my old mac 512.
I need administrators who value the written word and writing and reading and who understand that in order to learn and communicate, we need to be literate and liberated so that we can share our viewpoint with a larger audience and know that we will be safe and appreciated.
I need a system that acknowledges that to be a great scientist you have to be a good writer and a good reader and have a passion for connecting ideas and important concepts across disciplines so that we and our students become excited and engaged in their learning.
I need nature and the ability to connect students to nature and a sense of their place on our planet. I need them to read Svern Suzuki-Culliis' speech to the United Nations when she was 13 years old, some 35 years or so ago and realize that nothing has changed. The need for students today to use the digital void to make a difference couldn't be any more implicit or important. We need to make them realize that the digital world is not only fun and games and Facebook and Twitter but that it's also a tool to solve problems and find answers and deeply probe important and impending issues.
I need time to be redefined and reorganized so that the stress goes out of my vocabulary and the vocabulary of my students. Can you imagine that when I was 13 years old, I had never heard the word and if I had, I didn't even know what it meant.
Why can't being in the digital world, working in the digital world do what it's supposed to do and make our lives easier and make it so that we can accomplish more with greater ease?
What do you think of this teacher's words?