Friday, September 14, 2012

The Legendary Mr Santos

Mr Santos. I hope it's not his real name. We heard about Mr Santos on Wednesday afternoon, and I've been thinking about him, on and off, ever since. He's a familiar figure in work on digital literacies in education - maybe we all know, or have heard of a Mr Santos. His (or her) story begins in school, as a fairly conservative classroom teacher, dependent or even over-dependent on face-the-front didactic pedagogy. Computers, ICT training and so on have arrived, passed and left no lasting impression. Mr Santos isn't particularly techno-savvy in his leisure time, too - or so it seems. But then, with just a little help and encouragement, everything begins to change. He feels the need, usually as the result of an external force, to produce something digital - and being rather challenged by this he hands it over to the kids. They get fired up, they work things out, they use resources and learning from home, they work together and produce creative stuff that surprises Mr Santos. Their enthusiasm and the way they approach the task so impresses him that he begins to re-evaluate his practice. More collaborative work ensues, and more digital stuff is allowed into the mix. It's not that technology itself has changed anything, but perhaps a combination of external encouragement, pupil motivation and the softer side of Mr Santos. And so it goes. Well, I don't think anyone has really got to grips with the story of The Legendary Mr Santos and his companions - those who crop up in digital narratives in all sorts of different contexts. He is popular, I think, because his 'change' chimes with some basic liberal-progressive educational discourses (pupil autonomy, collaboration, creative production, non-ICT-ICT etc) and of course his story is positioned against the dark forces of neo-liberal reform (lock-step individual progress, prescriptive curricula, accountability, direct teaching etc etc)...but there's probably other stuff going on here, too. I suppose, and in fact I dearly hope that Mr Santos is not the only story we hear. We need more about the doubters, the knock-down enthusiasts and all the others, too!

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