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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thank You!

Thank You!

Remarks by John H. Strange upon receiving the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning, College of Education, University of South Alabama
April 29, 2011

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Hayes for the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning. My daughter Katharine said to me “Oh Dad, you are the only one there old enough to get a Lifelong Learning Award.” Of course she is also the daughter who asked me about a painting I had bought “Dad, how drunk were you when you bought that?” Now I find the award especially meaningful since I am a firm believer in the proposition that Learning Never Ends and I am constantly saying “I don’t know. Let’s find out.” And I might note that “Let’s” is plural! Learning is a joint venture.

As I thought back on all that I have learned since I began reshaping EDM310, it is clear that my continued learning has been a joint venture, that it has benefitted from many people. Jamie Lynn Miller and Poppy Bednorz taught me how important is is to say thank you as they did with their great movie EDM310 for Dummies. Now I get a chance to publicly thank them! So I again thank you Dean Hayes, Jamie Lynn and Poppy. Tonight I would like to give thanks to everyone who has helped me learn what EDM310 could and should be. The list is too long and the time is too short to do that, however. I will have to do the best I can. In so doing I will identify some of the central ideas I have tried to incorporate into EDM310. My thanks to each individual will be cryptic and lacking in details. I promise will write an extended blog expanding on what I have learned from each. Those of you here tonight who teach undergraduates will recognize many of the names.

I start with

William Chamberlain who teaches 5th grade in Noel. Missouri. He taught me how important commenting on blogs is, and he insisted, along with Angela Rand, that I use Twitter.
Room 10 at Pt. England School in Auckland New Zealand taught me how important Skype could be in learning.
Kaia, a three year old in Dubai, along with her father Jabiz, taught me the power of blogs in connecting diverse groups around the world.
Dillon Rogers, a USA student, thanked me for the freedom I gave her in class and now I thank her for demonstrating how important freedom can be in furthering creativity.
James Fawcett convinced me of the importance of movie making as an educational tool.
Paula Casallo would enter EDM310 for almost the entire semester saying “I hate technology.” Yet she taught me that people can change their minds about technology. Paula is creatively using much of what she learned in EDM310 at her school where is now a librarian
Jackie Gorski demonstrated that the alumni of EDM310 really do want to continue to be involved.
Stephen Akins helped me understand the power of being quiet, or even silent. I bet you are questioning whether ever happens with me.
Allie Howell encouraged me to understand the power of enthusiasm.
Joe McClung and Jarrod Lamshed demonstrated that sharing with others is an important learning objective, whether you are in Arkansas, Australia or Alabama.
G Tashbin insisted that we could create a true learning community, and with the help of the EDM310 Lab Assistants, we have!
Dorothy Burt revealed to me what an entire school can do when it fully embraces technology as is the case in New Zealand at Pt. England School.
Paige Baggett continues in her efforts to teach me that change can and does happen without messy revolutions.
And Anthony Capps has taught me how important it is to leave an academic trail worth Googling, how powerful reflection is, and what great teaching can be like in the 21st century.

There are many more people I should thank, but my EDM310 students as a whole have taught me the importance of being brief. I quote them: “One hour, six minutes and 42 seconds in a video we are supposed to watch? And then write a blog post about it? Get real Dr. Strange. Seven minutes at the most.” OK, they all took back those words after listening to Randy Pauch’s last lecture. But this is not my last lecture. So my 7 minutes is almost up.

My thanks to everyone, whether I mentioned you or not.

And now my talk.

OK. Don’t worry. It is included it in the 7 minute limit.

I want to thank 3 people for helping me with my talk: Bailey Hammond, Steve Jobs and Stuart Brand, originator and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog:

Bailey Hammond answered the question I posed last week to my students in EDM310: What assignment did I leave out of EDM310 this semester that I should have included? Then complete that assignment. with an assignment and a question:

Her assignment - Watch Steve Jobs’ 2005 graduation talk at Stanford which he ended with an admonition he read in the final issue of Stuart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog: "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

Bailey’s question: “What does ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’ mean to you and how can you apply that to your future as an educator?”

The short version of Bailey’s answer to her own question was to keep learning, don’t be satisfied with the status quo, take risks, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, be open to inspiration coming from the oddest of places (no, she didn’t say the Strangest of places), leave your inhibitions in the dust, don’t take any day for granted.

She ends her post with the lines from the song I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack,
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder./
You get your fill to eat/
but always keep that hunger...
I hope you dance.

And so I ask you “Stay hungry. Stay foolish” What does that mean to you as an educator?

Thank you Bailey (and Steve and Stuart) for my talk tonight.

Thank you again, Dean Hayes for your support!
Thanks to all my current and former EDM310 students.
And thanks to you, my audience - for not timing me!


  1. Congratulations Dr. Strange! They couldn't have picked a better person for this award. You are the epitome of what a "life-long learner" is all about and you certainly are an inspiration to the rest of us who are committed to teaching others. So, thank you for your dedication to EDM 310.

  2. Thanks Doc,

    Kelly is right on the money-- they couldn't have chosen more wisely. Thank you for everything you do to support us.


  3. Thanks to both of you. You are FAST! I am still cleaning up the post!

  4. Congratulations, Dr. Strange!

    As Kelly so rightly said:

    "They could not have picked a better person for this award."

    You have taught me so much about how to be a teacher, yet how to let the students feel like they accomplished something on their own. I have derived such a feeling of personal accomplishment from this class! I owe that to you as my moderator and guide, and to myself as my own regulator to get the job done. Thank you for being such an inspiration to the educators around you!

    I am going to "stay hungry" by never accepting the first answer, and always looking for interesting solutions to old problems. Why solve a persistent issue, with an old, outdated solution? I am going to always put my best effort forward with the hope that lives can positively benefit.
    I truly believe that no solution is the absolute solution, so why stop there?

  5. Well, if you are still cleaning... Stephen's "quiet" is quite misspelled. :-)

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  7. Rebekah -

    Thank you very much! You make me proud!

  8. Anthony,

    Quickly note this quality quote.

    You are quite right that I used quite instead of quiet. I could say it was the first mistake I ever made but you would not quietly stand by to a quite obvious attempt on my part to quiet those who might quite quickly quote me about proofreading posts to insure quality, quotability, and a quest for the quiet that comes from performances that are quite great even though they might be quiet contributions to the world's quality of life.

    Thanks! I sure do hope I got this correct or I will never quit hearing about it and will be seeking a quiet place to stick my head and quell the quacks and quips and queries of queens and kings and those who have formed queues on every quaint quay to quickly quaff their quota of their favorite drink before inspecting the quoin of the nearby building. It is best that they avoid the quite dangerous and quirky quicksands nearby. They might spread a quilt and stay a bit, writing with their quill pen a quite fascinating tale of what the seagull quoth. Or they could instead grab their quirt and ride off into the quite wonderful quiet of the sunset. Of course, if they were quins they might not want to quickly quit their quiet. Instead a quality discussion of quarks, or even quales, might quell their quest for understanding. If a quant should join them they might be ready to qualify for investments. Certainly a toast with quass would be in order which they could quickly quaff. Unless, of course, a quack was in their midst. Always, however, they should be on the watch for quakes.

    I quietly quashed quite and replaced it with quiet. I am quite satisfied that I now have a quality post which you can quote quite enthusiastically with no concern for being quiet.

    I'm now ready for another round of Words with Friends!

    I had to ditch the first version of this because I left out a period. Oh my!

  9. Congrats Dr. Strange! I tried to post earlier, but I couldn't from my phone. Hope you have fun celebrating!

  10. Dr. Strange,

    I think you should also win a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for your blog post with the most 'q's in it. Wow! I was all tongue tied trying to read it.

  11. Congratulations Dr. Strange!

    What an honor it is to have been a part of such a great learning community! You truly are deserving Dr. Strange, and I thank-you for all that YOU have done for US!

  12. Congrats Dr. Strange! This really has been one of my favorite courses. I just hope it is as fun in grad school! In answer to you question, I think this class is an example of "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." There isn't much that I can add to what Bailey said, but the fact you mention "reshaping EDM310" is a testament to that motto. A teacher who has not changed their syllabus, lesson plans, or increased their knowledge has gotten "full." And I don't know about you, but I'm not worth much on a full stomach. :) (How's that for a metaphor?) Again, congratulations on such a great honor. See you (and that cool looking award?) Monday night!

  13. Dr. Strange,
    Congratulations on your award! You have taught me that education should always be changing and moving forward. You have also shown me that educators should be passionate about learning new ways to improve their classroom. Your work will touch the lives of not only your students, but also the children that they will be teaching in the future. Thank you for all you have taught us.
    Rebecca Warnberg

  14. Congratulations,Dr. Srange! You definitely deserve it!

  15. Yay Dr. Strange! Congrats! This class been such a great learning and rewarding experience and just plain FUN! It's taught me about LIFE, LEARNING, AND TECHNOLOGY!! What could be better?
    Thanks Dr. Strange for this class!

  16. Way to go Doc, nice to be rewarded for something you enjoy doing. Dean Hayes couldn't have picked a more deserving person. Congratulation, you did it the old fashion way, "You Earned It".


    PS. Thanks for the kindness and patience you've shown me. without you and your staff, this class would have truly, been a mountain for me to climb.

  17. Congratulations Dr. Strange, and we have YOU to thank.

    -Matthew Poirier

  18. Congratulations Dr. Strange,
    Because of you this class made it... Well some of us. Your understanding, guidance and patience is outstanding.

  19. Congrats Dr. Strange! You deserve it! I hope you stay around USA for many many years because I will be that student trying to figure something out in her classroom one day that calls you up and ask......Enjoyed the class!

  20. Yes thanks to all of you! A special congrats to you Dr. Strange!! I have learned SO much from you this year. I honestly came into the class with no desire or intention to learn about technology in the classroom. I have come out a change person in that regard you can be assured! I love the freedom you give us to express our thoughts. You have a real gift in teaching students through teaching themselves! I will "stay hungry". There are so many answers to many different problems, why choose just one? I will also "stay foolish". I'm afraid that in some areas in my life that takes a literal meaning, but in other areas I will never assume I know the answer and I will always assume there is more to be found out!! Thanks again for such a wonderful class. This really has become a favorite of mine and I will remember it for the years to come.

  21. Congrats Dr. Strange! I agree with everything Sarah Nell said above. I couldn't have said it better. I have learned so much in this class, that is going to be so useful in the classroom. You have really made me think about things in a different perspective that I would have never thought about before!Thank you! :)

  22. Thank you Dr. Strange!! (I'm the twenty-third comment. I like that number.) You deserve this award, and I'm so glad to have been in this class with you. It has challenged me to use my creativity in ways I never dreamed possible. So thanks again! You are an inspiration.

  23. I now have renewed faith in the Dean!

  24. Congrats! It has been a pleasure to be in your orbit. Your students are lucky to have you as their guide as are we all. Thanks for the shout out. Kaia is almost five now btw and living in Jakarta!

  25. Congratulations! John, I am humbled you included me in your remarks. I have been amazed at how quickly you changed your path with your students and the incredible learning community that you and the others have created at USA. You are such a great learning role model for me.