on teaching hierarchy and organization …

In a post at the Blue Skunk Blog a while ago, Doug Johnson discussed having a “folder mind-set in a tagging world …” I think that I’m a folder mind-set guy, but I’m not too sure why that is.

Based on the way that I make decisions in the rest of my life, I think that by nature I’m not really very organized and methodical. I don’t like to plan what I’m going to do on weekends or for vacations. If I feel like going to a movie, I go to a movie. If I feel like lying on the sofa and watching tv, that’s what I do. I ended up with two post-graduate degrees without planning either of them. I didn’t know how to teach my second graders how to spell so I took a few classes. I wanted to know how to improve my kids’ reading comprehension so I took a few more. Before I knew it, I had enough credits to finish a degree. Library school was the same way. I wanted to know how to each kids how to research so I took a few classes. Before long, I had a degree. My degrees just seemed to happen organically and I think that, that is a reflection on my basic nature.

When I’m working online or on a computer, however, I’m a folder organizing crazy man. I use Bloglines rather than Google Reader because it is easy to group like feeds into folders. I use Yahoo Mail rather than GMail for precisely the same reason.

I kind of suspect that if I was a seventh grader in the world today, I’d be the kid dumping every single document ever created and every single e-mail ever saved into one huge jumble somewhere and trying to tag them so I could retrieve them at a later time, but I am a folder guy because of a lot of years of training and being taught to think in terms of hierarchies and broader and narrower topics.

Do kids of today have to know about hierarchy? I’d say yes, but am I just being old fashioned? Doesn’t understanding hierarchy and the relationship between things that are broader or narrower help you understand a concept better? I’d suppose that, those are concepts that would still be taught in other areas, but wouldn’t we lose something if we didn’t teach it specifically when kids are trying to access the information in other sources?

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