Samsara…Embrace Change!

I love my unit in World Civilization on Hinduism! It puts everything in perspective. My favorite concept from my favorite unit, is samsara. The only constant in the universe is change. How’s that for irony?

Teachers would do well to embrace samsara. This is my 31st year in the classroom. I’ve seen my share of change. During my teaching tenure, advancing technology has had a profound impact, much of it positive. Technology, and social media in particular, wipes out distances, pulverizes barriers, places libraries of information at fingertips, provides students with neat and beautiful forms of expression, and frustrates the living hell out of educators who are struggling to compete with a juicy text vibrating seductively in a student’s pocket.

I get it! A few years ago, I experienced this sense of futility. I was up in front of class pontificating, and I thought…I was bringing it! I was in the education zone…storytelling, rapping, illuminating! I fully expected applause at the end of my passionate dissertation. Instead, I glanced up to see a fair number of students staring intently at their slightly illuminated crotches! That was deflating.

But, I’ll cut the slightly younger me some slack. My frustration was as old as time…a basic generation gap. When I was a student, we listened to our teachers. Today’s kids are multi-taskers. It’s hard not to take it personal, but evolution is what it is! I’m certain parents in ancient Babylon were leery of their new fangled competitor…cuneiform!

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And…teachers need to be careful of hypocrisy. I’ve seen a lot of texting in faculty meetings. Young people aren’t  the only ones addicted to their phones.

So, that being said, a huge barrier for many teachers is pure anxiety. Educators are jealous of their student’s wandering eyes. Teachers are worried they’ll become irrelevant.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Go ahead and fully embrace what social media can do for your kids. I’ve done this and it has revolutionized my teaching!

I’ve utilized YouTube to flip ALL my lectures. Here’s a link to my presentation on Chinese philosophy.

By doing this, my students can listen at their own pace. They can rewind and listen again to things they found confusing. If they get tired or distracted, they can take breaks. I’ve been amazed by how complimentary kids are towards my new method of presentation. And when they come to class the next day, we apply, apply apply!

My students blog on a weekly basis. This has been a blast, and so revealing. I’ve learned so much about my kids. Classmates have learned about one another. They’re required to read, watch, or listen, and then comment on colleague’s posts. My next step is to connect my kids with students in other schools, other states, other countries! We’ll all blog on the same prompt. It’s really fun! Here is my recent blog prompt on students creating a podcast about American attitudes towards Islam.

My suggestions to flip lectures and include blogging are hardly revolutionary. It’s easy to find activities that utilize social media. If you ask your colleagues and do a basic web search, you’ll be bombarded with options. My focus, however, is attitudinal. Go ahead…embrace social media. Your students will love you for it! I’ve been doing this gig since the mid 1980s. If I can change…so can you. SAMSARA BABY!

My book “You’ve Gotta Connect” is all about how teachers can forge strong relationships with students. You can also listen to me dialogue about bonding with young people on numerous podcasts.

Please follow me on Twitter @jamessturtevant

I also love doing professional development. If you’re interested, here’s my email: