Figuring out how to interact with and use digital media gracefully is a challenge for many adults. A day doesn’t pass that I don’t hear adults express some degree of despair about social media and how it relates to the education of their children.
So it was with some interest that I read an article, Museum Displays an Educator’s Philosophy, in the September 9, 2011 Washington Post, an interview with educator Johnnetta Cole, Ph.D., who shares thoughtful comments about social media. An anthropologist, college professor, and former president of two colleges (Bennett College for Women and Spelman College), Cole, age 74, is now the director of the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. As a leader, she demonstrates creativity and passion for the museum while developing programs that reach out to communities, and she promotes the museum’s educational activities. Using social media wisely is a part of the museum’s plan. Read Cole’s Smithsonian bio.
Disregarding the tendency of people to dislike and ignore what they don’t understand, Dr. Cole encourages others to believe in social media and understand its power. In the interview she comments,
I’m telling you if you don’t get with the social media, you’re gone. I’m not kicking and screaming anymore. I understand the power of social media. . . . Our challenge is to make sure that the social media instruments that we use keep a human face, that it’s grounded in the humanness of what this museum is all about.
Other comments by Dr. Cole (read her Gale biography) speak to the need to embrace differences and accept change. She also touches on the need for all of us, and especially our children, to learn to collaborate.
- At the core of my leadership style is a collaborative spirit… 28 women and men — working collaboratively.
- I’m trained as an anthropologist. It’s like a pair of eyeglasses, lenses that you put on that help you see the world in a particular way. And mainly what those glasses help you to see is the differences in human communities, but also the similarities.
Parents of digital children can learn a lot from Dr. Cole’s leadership style and her acceptance of changes in the digital world.