Lessons from Charles Lindbergh and a couple of seniors!

November 30, 2007

Last night Zack Lehman and I were sitting around Holden Living Room talking with a couple of seniors. It was one of those rambling conversations that covered lots of ground. Somehow the topic of Charles Lindbergh came up. Zack and I were most surprised when several of the guys did not know who Lindbergh was. At first we gave them a hard time – “How can you not know who Charles Linbergh was?”

I moved on with the evening, but I kept coming back to the Lindbergh conversation. Increasingly I found myself thinking “So what that they did not know who Lindbergh was?” There are much more important pieces of information and skills that I hope that they learn. Lindbergh’s accomplishments, while amazing at the time, are almost meaningless now in the world that this year’s graduates have to understand. I may know who Lindbergh was, but I can’t do a bunch of things that most of our seniors can do.

Our students have far more information at their fingertips than we ever could imagine. Last night, the guys could have accessed the internet on their phones and found the 3,650,000 entries in Google under Lindbergh in .25 of a second! I would venture that my high school library, which was a very good library for a school our size in 1978, might have had 25 or 50 books on him. I could have found another 50 or so entries if I had wanted to spend hours on Microfiche or gotten another 50 books if I had wanted to wait a week for inter library loan.

So despite my love of history, I have to admit now that I shouldn’t be bothered about whether the guys know who Lindbergh was. I care that they know how to get the answer in a hurry and that they can evaluate which of the readily available sources has integrity. I love the fact that our students have access to hundreds of millions of documents at their fingertip. My focus is on ensuring that they develop the skills to process this information. I am jealous of the fact that while I only had perhaps a couple of hundred record albums, which I generally quickly scratched, my kids can travel anywhere with thousands of songs in their pockets as well a photo and video collections that would have taken up good-sized rooms. They participate in conversations with friends from all over the world regularly and can share their interests and ideas with friends anytime, almost anywhere.

So perhaps if I could ‘defrag’ or archive some of those less important details like who and what Lindbergh and the Lusitania were, I would have more capacity to do what these kids do so well. Boy are Mr. Lehman and I getting old!

Oh, and if you are looking for some images of Charles Lindbergh, I’ve included one of the 66,800 that were available on Google Images in less than a tenth of a second! This one is courtesy of The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation. What a great world we live in!

Have a great weekend.

John K.

PS: Thanks to Kiley for covering last Friday when I dropped the ball, or turkey!

PSS: Speaking of pilots, congratulations to Galen Topper for his accomplishments and promotion in the Civil Air Patrol.

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