The Internet has changed the way we read. There is no doubt about it.
Nicholas Carr, in his book What is the Internet Doing to Our Brains? The Shallows says, “Once I was a scuba diver in a sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
Some say this is a good thing. Some – a bad thing. I say, “It is what it is”. Let’s deal with it. Let’s take control of the opportunities to read differently and let’s opportunistically and deliberately choose how we read. How we read may depend on many factors such as: difficulty or novelty of the material; purpose for reading – entertainment, knowledge; medium of the written word – online text laden with hyperlinks, video, images and potential distractions from email, Facebook, texts, RSS notifications, etc.; mood; expertise with the material; and so on. Kids need to understand this.
Let’s effectively use this scuba diver/jet ski metaphor to educate our students. It is part of the new literacy our students must acquire – a digital literacy.
I have often used a technique with kids that I have called Metaphoria! You can see some examples of this in Deep Understanding and the Issue of Transfer. But basically I might give them sentence starters such as “Programming in Logo is like…” or “Finding a bug in a program is like…” Students have said such things as the following. “Programming in Logo is like playing tennis. First, I take a turn, then the computer takes a turn.” “Finding a bug in a program is like looking for a needle in a haystack.” “Finding a bug in a program is like thinking about every step all over again.”
Metaphors provide students with a mental model — a model that is durable and independent of the computer and therefore empowers students with tools with which to think.
John Spencer in Paradox of Creativity has the beginnings of some great metaphors to use with kids. He says, “Problem-solving involves this strange dance of composing and destroying”.
Have you got examples of metaphors that you have used with students that you can share?