Remarks by John H. Strange upon receiving the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning, College of Education, University of South Alabama
April 29, 2011
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Hayes for the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning. My daughter Katharine said to me “Oh Dad, you are the only one there old enough to get a Lifelong Learning Award.” Of course she is also the daughter who asked me about a painting I had bought “Dad, how drunk were you when you bought that?” Now I find the award especially meaningful since I am a firm believer in the proposition that Learning Never Ends and I am constantly saying “I don’t know. Let’s find out.” And I might note that “Let’s” is plural! Learning is a joint venture.
As I thought back on all that I have learned since I began reshaping EDM310, it is clear that my continued learning has been a joint venture, that it has benefitted from many people. Jamie Lynn Miller and Poppy Bednorz taught me how important is is to say thank you as they did with their great movie EDM310 for Dummies. Now I get a chance to publicly thank them! So I again thank you Dean Hayes, Jamie Lynn and Poppy. Tonight I would like to give thanks to everyone who has helped me learn what EDM310 could and should be. The list is too long and the time is too short to do that, however. I will have to do the best I can. In so doing I will identify some of the central ideas I have tried to incorporate into EDM310. My thanks to each individual will be cryptic and lacking in details. I promise will write an extended blog expanding on what I have learned from each. Those of you here tonight who teach undergraduates will recognize many of the names.
I start with
William Chamberlain who teaches 5th grade in Noel. Missouri. He taught me how important commenting on blogs is, and he insisted, along with Angela Rand, that I use Twitter.
Room 10 at Pt. England School in Auckland New Zealand taught me how important Skype could be in learning.
Kaia, a three year old in Dubai, along with her father Jabiz, taught me the power of blogs in connecting diverse groups around the world.
Dillon Rogers, a USA student, thanked me for the freedom I gave her in class and now I thank her for demonstrating how important freedom can be in furthering creativity.
James Fawcett convinced me of the importance of movie making as an educational tool.
Paula Casallo would enter EDM310 for almost the entire semester saying “I hate technology.” Yet she taught me that people can change their minds about technology. Paula is creatively using much of what she learned in EDM310 at her school where is now a librarian
Jackie Gorski demonstrated that the alumni of EDM310 really do want to continue to be involved.
Stephen Akins helped me understand the power of being quite, or even silent. I bet you are questioning whether ever happens with me.
Allie Howell encouraged me to understand the power of enthusiasm.
Joe McClung and Jarrod Lamshed demonstrated that sharing with others is an important learning objective, whether you are in Arkansas, Australia or Alabama.
G Tashbin insisted that we could create a true learning community, and with the help of the EDM310 Lab Assistants, we have!
Dorothy Burt revealed to me what an entire school can do when it fully embraces technology as is the case in New Zealand at Pt. England School.
Paige Baggett continues in her efforts to teach me that change can and does happen without messy revolutions.
And Anthony Capps has taught me how important it is to leave an academic trail worth Googling, how powerful reflection is, and what great teaching can be like in the 21st century.
There are many more people I should thank, but my EDM310 students as a whole have taught me the importance of being brief. I quote them: “One hour, six minutes and 42 seconds in a video we are supposed to watch? And then write a blog post about it? Get real Dr. Strange. Seven minutes at the most.” OK, they all took back those words after listening to Randy Pauch’s last lecture. But this is not my last lecture. So my 7 minutes is almost up.
My thanks to everyone, whether I mentioned you or not.
And now my talk.
OK. Don’t worry. It is included it in the 7 minute limit.
I want to thank 3 people for helping me with my talk: Bailey Hammond, Steve Jobs and Stuart Brand, originator and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog:
Bailey Hammond answered the question I posed last week to my students in EDM310: What assignment did I leave out of EDM310 this semester that I should have included? Then complete that assignment. with an assignment and a question:
Her assignment - Watch Steve Jobs’ 2005 graduation talk at Stanford which he ended with an admonition he read in the final issue of Stuart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog: "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
Bailey’s question: “What does ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’ mean to you and how can you apply that to your future as an educator?”
The short version of Bailey’s answer to her own question was to keep learning, don’t be satisfied with the status quo, take risks, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, be open to inspiration coming from the oddest of places (no, she didn’t say the Strangest of places), leave your inhibitions in the dust, don’t take any day for granted.
She ends her post with the lines from the song I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack,
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder./
You get your fill to eat/
but always keep that hunger...
I hope you dance.
And so I ask you “Stay hungry. Stay foolish” What does that mean to you as an educator?
Thank you Bailey (and Steve and Stuart) for my talk tonight.
Thank you again, Dean Hayes for your support!
Thanks to all my current and former EDM310 students.
And thanks to you, my audience - for not timing me!