Apropos of Rob’s post, here is Nicholas Bramble’s very inventive take on learning via Facebook:
[A teacher at a suburban school had found] videos showing students getting into fights with one another. They posted the videos to their MySpace pages and debated who had the better fighting skills. The teacher also found footage from a set of girls who had filmed themselves dancing suggestively in school stairwells. . .
Schools have had a nearly unanimous response to Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube: repression and silence. Administrators block access to these sites because they think it’s important to keep classrooms free from the perceived harms associated with social networksâ€”harassment, bullying, exploitative advertising, violence, and sexual imagery.
But this is shortsighted. Educators should stop thinking about how to repress the huge amounts of intellectual and social energy kids devote to social media and start thinking about how to channel that energy away from causing trouble and toward getting more out of their classes. . . .[For example,] a teacher could assign students the task of filming a scene from The Scarlet Letter in the stairwell, identifying the dynamic of shaming in the novel, and writing about how it might be playing out in their Facebook news feeds.
Other educators are showing how the humanities fit into a corporate university:
At the University of Texas . . . many parents drop their children off freshman year asking, “How can my child transfer to the business school?” She tries to establish the value of the liberal arts with a series of courses called “The Major in the Workplace.” Students draw what she calls a “major map,” an inventory of things they have learned to do around their major. Using literature — “The Great Gatsby,” perhaps, or “Death of a Salesman” — she gets students to think about how the themes might apply to a workplace, then has them read Harvard Business Review case studies. The goal, she says, is to get students to think about how an English major (or a psychology or history major) might view the world differently, and why an employer might value that.
“Death of a Salesman” certainly sounds appropriate for the US’s increasingly hollow economy.