I was awake at 1am (irrigating my property...its an Arizona thing) when I heard about the death of
Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter. My kids call it Animal Chanimal, but Animal Planet is where my children have learned just about everything they know about animals. But its more than that. Educators like Steve engage kids with a passion that contagious. After a show, the first thing my kids ask is, "Dad, can we go to Animalplanet.com?" They simply want to learn more. They've become filled with a desire to learn more...they want to learn it now...and today they can.
Back in my day it was Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. My family would gather around the TV every sunday night...wiggle the rabbit ears a little...and watch amazing animal stories from the safety of our living room. The closest we came to acting on our passion for more was hustling over to the encyclopedia brittanica to find a paragraph or two and a picture to fill our apetite for learning more.
Steve and other great educators focus entirely on Gagne's first event of instruction: Motivation and gaining attention. I can't imagine Steve Irwin ever saying "Upon completion of viewing this show you will be able to _________________". No way! The authenticity of Steve Irwin's passion and enthusiasm is what embraces us as we become participants, albeit passive but engaged nonetheless, in Steve's mission within any particular show.
Today's technology allows us to engage and have conversations with passionate experts in any and all fields of study and interest. Why simply read a text book when I can watch someone like Steve and immediately engage in an online conversation with other passionate animal enthusiasts via blogs, wikis, forums, flickr, or the hundreds of other online social networks capable of facilitating conversations and learning. I'm guessing Steve Irwin was not an instructional designer but he definitely "gets it".
I've selected a few Irwin quotes:
"I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message."When it comes to learning, passion and enthusiasm trumps all else, period.
"My belief is that what comes across on the television is a capture of my enthusiasm and my passion for wildlife."
"When I talk to the camera, mate, it's not like I'm talking to the camera, I'm talking to you because I want to whip you around and plunk you right there with me. "
We lost another passionate educator today and our prayers go out to his family and friends.