One of my favorite quotes is by musician Charlie Mingus who said that true genius lay in making the complex simple. It is right up there, in my mind, with Peter Drucker’s “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” and the Serenity Prayer, which by law should hang in every Principal’s office.
My son is taking a coding class at a local school. I have also been looking at a number of international school curriculae and noticed that a number of them offer coding classes as well. This is great. It enriches our understanding of technology and empowers users with a knack for engineering and software, all relevant stuff. Rasberry Pi is wonderful. My son was showing me how he can connect the doorbell to send me a tweet every time someone rings it. Not making that up.
My concern is that it when I review the criteria for global competency, I am not convinced that this curricular decision is getting us any closer to those ideals. Yes, we can decide to offer both. But with everything from Design Technology to Digital Literacy and so on, someone has to make choices around which courses get us closer to our school mission which, like it or not, is what we market on the home page of our web sites.
I argue that social media education is critical and cuts across every discipline that we teach, including coding. I argue that students are already using and misusing social media in ways we never imagined. Forget about Facebook, they are already onto a host of other platforms. Yes, I understand that coding wrote Facebook and that Mark Zuckerberg was a coding, not a social media specialist. But that does not mean that we need to try to create an army of Zuckerbergs.
Although you could argue that changes in social media such as the migration to Vine and Snapchat make it just as challenging to commit to something to teach, I think it is a dynamic platform that cuts across curriculum and global competency in a way that teaching coding does not. I am not advocating that we dump coding education. I am simply saying that schools cannot DO IT ALL. And if we want to create a relevant big picture experience that does not simply add to overloaded plates, I am putting my money on social media education.
Even though it is a bit of a marketing plug, @coryedwards makes an interesting point in his blog on the lack of social media education in universities. social media education and talks about the critical nature of this global competency.
Please note, I am not talking about digital literacy or citizenship. Those are important but not as nuanced as social media skills. I am talking about the ability to communicate and collaborate across cultures with an eye towards audience, message, language, and international aptitude. That is the essence of good social media on a global scale. It is, in my mind, becoming the humanities major of our time.
No, it doesn’t have to be either or. But with the demands of the I.B. and the principles that we are supposed to be living in guidance with our mission statements and global competence, I think it is our duty to keep the complex simple and to offer our students the best chance to negotiate a very complex world.
Sorry about the lack of an apropro 80s video, but this one about social media lifecastingwas the best I could do. (And apologies in advance for borderline ads that preview it).