Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Technology, journaling and photography - Part 1

Image found at morgueFile
I'm sitting at home with most of the lights off listening to my favorite soundtrack selections as the thunderstorm outside advances across the sky. As the lightning flashes, it spotlights the car sitting in my driveway. Sometimes the thunder rumbles and it really does sound like a bowling ball rolling down the lane aiming to strike a few pins. There is no crash though, so it must be a gutter ball. As I watched this moving picture, I started thinking about technology, photography and journaling. You're probably puzzling over the connection between these items. You might even be humming that little ditty from Sesame Street:
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
So, how do technology, photography and journaling fit together? I always love those great photos of lightning storms with a streak of lightning shooting down from the sky. While I admire the quality of those awesome photos, my photography skills are sadly lacking. I know it's all about the right equipment and lens, but I just don't have enough knowledge and understanding to capture those breathtaking photos. I could learn, but I just haven't invested the time to learn. So, I will have to either be content with admiring the great work of others or invest my time to learn a new skill. You're probably starting to make the connection to technology, but let's look at how journaling fits into this picture. I love to journal. I don't call it writing because that reminds me too much of essay papers and after surviving the completion of my English major in college, I'd rather not think about essay writing. It gives me chills. Journaling, on the other hand, has been a great way for me to think through the random thoughts and events of the day. Sometimes they are a string of situations, events and ideas that have no direction connection, but somehow they seem to come together in some profound epiphany. Ok, maybe they're not always profound and maybe it isn't always an epiphany, but there usually are some revelations by the end of my journaling time. The one thing I've found about journaling is the more I do it, the more comfortable I become writing out my thoughts and ideas. Sometimes my brain moves faster than my hand can write. I may have had a little skill in writing before I started journaling, but like anything, practice improved the skill.

Are you grasping a connection yet? Well, here's a curve ball for you. When I first started filling out those infamous teaching applications in the hope of securing my first teaching position, they always asked you to write about your philosophy of education. I hated that question because I wrote what they wanted to hear. You know the answer. It boiled down to one statement. Every student can be taught. Well, they can be, but does that really mean they learn? I can teach English, but unless students put the knowledge into practice no real learning is occurring for them. The same is true with technology. I can go to workshops or watch videos and be taught, but until I actually act I never learn. So you may still be baffled by these loose connections. Let's see if we can tie them together.

Image found at morgueFile
As I watched that storm progress, I thought about all those teachers and staff who have told me how bad they are with technology. I've heard phrases like "tech tarded," "I'm no good at technology," "I'm stupid when it comes to computers," etc.  To them, technology is that looming storm hanging over their head. It rumbles and sends them into the gutter when they don't experience success. However, whether they realize it or not, most have a little skill, at least enough to turn the computer on and off. But seriously, most have more skill than that. They can check email and look at photos and videos from friends and family. Just like my journaling, they learn enough to do the things that are important to them. My journaling will never be a published masterpiece, but it does what I need it to do. Over time, my writing has improved just from continual practice. The same is true with technology. The skills improve just from regular use of the computer. Sometimes, however, we have to dive in deeper if we really want to improve and master our skills. I can take photos, well enough that I don't cut off anyone's head, but if I want those breathtaking images of lightning strikes during a thunderstorm, then I have to delve deeper in my learning. I either need to take a course, read articles and books on the subject or watch tutorials to gain more knowledge and understanding. Then, I must act on that knowledge by practicing the skill. Like writing in my journal, my photos will improve from continual practice.

Am I stepping on toes? Maybe. Am I preaching to the choir? Sure. But I find that sometimes I have to be reminded of the obvious. It's like this blogging business. It does have great value, but I'll never improve if I don't practice and do.

I do have one other thought relating to technology, journaling and photography, but you'll have to wait for the next post.

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