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The more I read, the more I wonder

These days I have a lot more time available to read. Whereas I used to dig into book after book of non-fiction, I now tend to leap from article to blog post and back to another article. My twitter feed is a regular supplier of various forms of editorial, research synthesis, off-the-top-of-someone’s-head revelation and journalistic coverage of events and trends. I read what I can, what seems interesting, relevant, likely to confirm my own ideas and maybe stretch them a little bit but not too much.

That’s why the more I read, the more I wonder about my own understanding. Do I understand more because I read more about, say, educational technology and the need for more engaging forms of STEM instruction? Do I really understand why this is important in the short term and for the future? What about how technology integration should work in schools, in student learning, in our adult lives? I seem to read quite a bit about these things because they interest me. I am surrounded by both their ubiquity and their slipperiness. If we are so immersed in our own technology use, how likely are we to find the necessary distance which would allow us to truly question what’s beneficial and what may be toxic? I wonder.

I enjoy reading about pedagogy and professional learning and harmonious collaboration in schools as much as I enjoy reading about the parts we continue to get wrong: standardized testing, scripted curricula, treating students like data points instead of people. And yet I don’t feel substantially more knowledgeable. Every day that I stay outside the classroom, no matter how much reading I do, I will hardly learn more about education. About learning. About children.

What I am learning is selfish. I am learning more about myself, about my limits and my biases. I am learning that all of the topics mentioned above are complex and their implications deeply tied to context; that one blog post is simply one in a sea of blog posts. The filter bubble I am creating for myself on a daily basis seems to become less permeable and a little more comfy. I read more by the people I can agree with and know ever less about those who may see things in an entirely different light. I am learning that I curate according to my affinities. As my reading continues to expand, my horizons may not be.

When I do return to the classroom, I will find people who will disagree with me. I will encounter individuals who will challenge my thinking and my actions in multiple ways on many levels. My extensive reading will not save me then. Rather it will be my humanity, my capacity to be human, to be real, be honest and be clear that will keep me from being eaten alive by 5th graders. As we read, and practice, and try stuff out we will wonder together about where that may be taking us. And we will be richer for having reached an understanding, together and separately.

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