There is so much information available…

  • School vacation begins at the end of the school day on Friday, February 17th. Every year I say this, but I can’t believe how fast this year is going by. When we think about this vacation way back in September, it seems so far away. It is our hope that you all enjoy this time, I know that your kids will and I am sure that all of our teachers will enjoy this time of “re-charging of the batteries”.
  • Our monthly PIE meeting is Thursday evening from 6:30 – 7:30 pm in the GMS Library. I would like to thank those of you who came out on Monday night to view Claudine Emerson’s presentation Drugs 101: What Every Parent Should Know. The presentation was excellent and gave a view into a very dangerous world that we wish to keep our kids from. Perhaps we can continue the discussion of substance abuse at the PIE meeting. One other subject could be the Dateline NBC videos that have been placed on this post in the past few weeks. In any event, both Susie and I would love to see you!
  • If you would like to sign you son or daughter up for Lacrosse this spring there will be a registration this Thursday, February 16 in the GMS Cafeteria beginning at 6:00 pm. A parent or guardian must accompany the student at the registration with insurance information in order to complete the registration. If you would like more information contact Ann Cushing at anncushing@yahoo.com.
  • On March 2nd, we will be having an early release day for students, so students will be dismissed at 11:10 on this day. Teachers will spend the afternoon in a workshop. In the morning of this day, all students will be visiting several of the more than 30 folks coming into our school to share their experience in a career fair day. Some of the attendees include Lawyers, athletes, coaches, doctors and authors of young adult literature. The morning will be filled with four 30 minute sessions where students will hear about the chosen professions of our visitors and then have time to ask some questions. Please be sure to ask your child about who they met on this day.
  • March 2nd also marks the mid-point of the 3rd Quarter and Progress Reports will be going home to parents at the end of the day on Friday.
  • Our next school dance is March 9th and it is sponsored by our Civil Rights Team and our Odyssey of the Mind and Lego Robotics Teams. Teams are always looking for chaperons for these dances and if you are interested in an evening filled with high energy and lots of good tunes, you can call Diane Knott or Sarah Rubin and offer your services. Having had the experience of being at most of the dances, I can assure you, you will be entertained in a very positive way!
  • You should have received, via U.S. Mail Service, a letter from the Commissioner of Education for the state of Maine regarding your child’s results on the fall administration of the NECAPS. If you have nay questions about the results, please do not hesitate to call me, I am sure we can find any answers you may seek. ON the whole we are very satisfied with our results this year. With very few exceptions we have improved in each area and with each sub group. This is a real credit to our community’s commitment to the education of its children. Thank you very much for your continued support.
  • The Gorham Adult Education folks are presenting a Cyber-bullying Social Media Parent Workshop on Thursday evening, March 22nd beginning at 6 until 8:30 at the Gorham Middle School. Peter Phair, an Maine Educator and Youth Services Coordinator for National Alliance on Mental Illness-Maine and he will provide attendees some tips to identify if your child is being bullied or is a bully. He will help the attendees develop some strategies and tried and true tip for dealing with bullying behavior. The cost of the class is$15 and more information can be obtained from Gorham Adult Education.

On to another and, totally different subject…

I remember my Dad using a phrase, way back in the 20th Century, that confused me a bit as a little kid. The phrase “paralysis by analysis” absolutely had me baffled. I figured, since my Dad was a doctor, that this was some kind of medical term or malady that I didn’t think I wanted to catch. When I curiously asked my Dad what that phrase meant, he said,  “there was too much information available and that he couldn’t make a decision” (he usually used this phrase when he was shopping in a hardware store and was surprised at how much “stuff” was available). I can’t imagine how my Dad would feel in today’s information society? Twitter, Youtube, Flikr, Foursquare, Skype and all of these social networking sites for sharing information instantaneously make all kinds of information readily available to anyone.

What really made me think about this topic was an experience I had this weekend while watching TV with my wife. My wife asked me “who is the actor playing the part of Mark?”, a reference to the show The State Within. Well, I didn’t know, but I quickly picked up my computer and, within two minutes, (my connection is slow!), not only did I know who the actor was but what other credits he has in his career.

That’s what started me thinking about how I got the answers to these questions before Al Gore invented the internet! What I realized was, that I didn’t need the answers to all my questions right now. In fact, I probably could have lived a very full life without that particular answer, but what about other questions? Technology has become so integral in our lives. What we do with it and how we make it work for us is so important. We certainly do not want to let it rule our lives.

In the past week I have posted several times about behaviors that our children must face. From the Cinnamon Challenge, the Salt ‘n’ Ice Challenge to the bullying videos from Dateline NBC. The challenges were made available to me, and to our students, through the magic of Youtube. It is no wonder our kids get stressed out. None of them want to feel left out of anything, hence the experimentation.

So what do finding the answers to my obscure questions and the availability of these challenges the endanger our kids have in common? They are all there on the internet for all to access and to use!

Historically, schools were places where students went to gain knowledge. Each building was packed full of these adults who knew everything that the students needed know in their young lives and they were charged with dispensing that knowledge, in small, sometimes painful doses. School buildings were where knowledge lived. You know, things like work hard and you’ll get ahead, always wear clean underwear… no, wait, that was Mom who gave us that info… do your homework, get organized, etc..

But now, our students have at their very fingertips, a few simple key strokes, all of the information known to man (and woman). A nimble Google search, a well crafted Ask.com question, and you have all of the answers to all your questions. But do you? Can we trust everything that we read from a Google search? Who is the authority on the truth for this information?

Back when I was a young boy, you know, just hangin’ around the cave with the dinosaurs (some days I feel that old!), there was, probably still is, a Nursery Rhyme entitled The Little Girl with a Curl. It goes like this:

There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good, she was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.

This reminds of what technology is to our students today. When it is used well, it is very, very good and when it is used poorly, it is horrid!

Our challenge is to help our students use technology in positive ways, to help them explore the world the will inherit and see where they can make their positive contributions to our betterment and limit its negative use. The world according to TV, with its conflict plot lines and violent overtones, cannot be our children’s reality. We know that adolescents are constantly challenging their world. They tend to be more risk takers that us “old fogies” and that makes them more willing to explore places and try new things.

In his book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman wrote about how the world is “flattening” out and we must run at a much quicker pace if we want to just remain in place. This reminds us all that this is a very different world and it continues to change at a very rapid pace.

In the next post we’ll take a look at schools, the way we knew them when we were young and what the future holds.

Finally, there is a way that you can sign up to subscribe to these posts. If you subscribe you will receive an email when something new is posted. You can also leave comments and begin an on-line conversation with other parents.

Until next time…

2 thoughts on “There is so much information available…

  1. Nice post Bob!!!! I like the notification of new posts, and hopefully I am doing it right!!

    From one old fogie to another………

    Dennis Libby

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