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Remember: The Music is not in the Piano…

August 20, 2008

Remember: The Music is not in the Piano…
– Clement Mok, Clement Mok Designs, found in “The Mac Is Not A Typewriter”, 1990 PeachPit Press.

I’ve been tossing lots of old teaching materials as I clean my basement, and I came across a book with this quote in it. I find myself constantly having to remind teachers and administrators that just having the technology in school does not mean higher student achievement. As the school year starts, teachers who have developed wonderful and robust personal learning networks over the summer are finding many of the Web2.0 tools they discovered and hoped to use are blocked in their classrooms.

I’ve been watching the Olympics a lot lately, so in many ways, it’s like running the hurdles. The race isn’t in the sneakers. It isn’t in the course. The start and the end are fairly clear. The path from one end to the other may even be well defined. You even know that there will be obstacles in your path, placed intentionally and at regular intervals.

It is the artistry with which a coach can drive and inspire their students to run faster, jump higher, achieve more, and increase achievement that makes the job they do a work of art, an Olympic event, and a beautiful melody to observe.

The technology itself is unimportant. Like the piano, it is but an instrument or a tool.

The hurdles we face, the filters, the acceptable use policies, the lack of access to videoconference gear, bandwidth, laptops and software – each on their own are trivial and often indiscriminate. It takes many instruments to make an orchestra.

Gifted musicians “hear” the music in their head. But what a shame it is when the tools aren’t available for the rest of us to be able to enjoy. What a loss we suffer when our students, our prodigies, are never inspired to bring their own music to our ears.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2008 10:35 am

    Hey Dan, loved the post! The quote really hit home! If I could add, or rather mod the quote, the music isn’t on paper, in lectures, texts or presos, it’s in what our learners do with that info! The synthesis of what is learned, knowledge gained and applied is what makes our learners sing!

    Look forward to your next post!

    John “EdVentures” Martin

  2. teach42 permalink
    August 20, 2008 10:49 am

    That is a phenomenal quote. And a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, can you credit anyone on the quote itself? Or should I be crediting you when I say it again and again and again.

  3. August 20, 2008 11:28 am

    I searched online, and didn’t find it, so I had to go back to the book I remembered it from “The Mac Is Not A Typewriter” by Robin Williams, 1990 PeachPit Press. The author attributed it to Clement Mok, Clement Mok Designs. Sorry I didn’t attribute it earlier, I *should* have. I didn’t have the book near me, and had been thinking about the quote. Thanks for calling me on that! 🙂 Please give credit where credit is due.

  4. kvanwyk permalink
    August 21, 2008 11:01 am

    It seems as if we are making the same music – two pianos, two continents and hemispheres apart.

  5. Joel permalink
    August 21, 2008 10:24 pm

    Very insightful. Shedding light on the true music-makers. Even a cappela sounds good when it’s done right.

  6. August 25, 2008 3:03 pm

    Thank you for this. I’m going to have to share this with my students!


  1. 90% digital, or 12 ways my teaching ecosystem is evolving. at

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