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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His scholarship focuses on instructional supervision of teacher candidates, teacher...
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The Geeks Have Inherited the Earth

It’s true. The geeks have inherited the earth.

Self-proclaimed “geek,” Dr. Brian Housand, is living proof of this when he took center stage as the keynote speaker for the Florida Association for the Gifted’s annual conference recently held in Tampa.

Housand, an associate professor at East Carolina University and technology whiz, made references to such 80s teen icons as Anthony Michael Hall of Sixteen Candles fame, who was simply known as “The Geek” in the film.  But Housand turned it around, proving that “geeks” and “nerds” are highly intelligent, creative people, who possess unique interests-not a bad combination. He encouraged teachers to have talks with children about what it means to be gifted and to explain to them that being smart is not a bad thing.

Housand’s talk culminated in sharing “five seeds” of thought, which I have outlined below.

1.   Access

 

Use technology to provide students with more access to new ideas and programs that will spark their interests and giftedness.  For example, Youtube features videos on “doodling in math class” and there’s thinkgeek.com, mentalfloss.com and howstuffworks.com.

2.   Create

 

Housand said teachers and students need to think about computers and technology more like pianos, rather than stereos. Rather than simply “playing” things, they need to see them as tools that allow them to “create their own music.” An example of this would be code.org, which enables students to begin learning the basics of coding in a fun, friendly format.

 

3.   Opportunity

 

Housand noted that the students should take advantage of the many online courses that are offered by universities free of charge. For instance, in my own case, I’ve had students take advantage of keyboarding, advanced mathematics, and other courses through Florida’s Virtual School. 

4.   Responsibility

 

Kids need to be responsible consumers of information and avoid “playing in dark alleys”, as Housand put it. Teachers must steer students toward safe, controlled social websites, rich as Shelfari.com, where kids can form online book clubs and Edmodo.com, which serve as a kind of Facebook for the classroom.

5.   Necessity

Finally, Housand stressed the importance of having a specific purpose for using technology. Before jumping onto a tablet or other device, students should get in the habit of asking themselves why they are using the device, for what purpose.

When concluding his keynote, Housand challenged his audience to set a goal for the current school year. Rather than go through the motions, he asked them to consider how to make it “the best year ever.” Now, that you have hopefully planted five new seeds in your mind, what steps will you take to make it a great school year?

 

Thanks for reading,

Steve