Tuesday, January 13, 2015

171952

 
171952  DIGITS.  Simple, HORRIBLE, ATROCIOUS digits.

Digits Used to be Numbers and Fingers.  Suddenly, DIGITAL is the big buzzword.  I've talked a lot about change in education, and certainly there is an equal -- or greater -- amount of change happening in the world.  Consider where we were with airport security, or instant access to news, or the ability to talk to anyone, anywhere on the planet for free, in the last twenty years.  The world is changing, and calling on every one of us to change right along with it.  

For the good.  We can only hope.

Without sounding like I'm on a soapbox, I ask that you revisit the very first line of the blog this evening.  Indulge me.  In context, your life will be richer for having done so.


The Te@chthought Blog Challenge for today - 

What is one area of digital learning that you want to improve on in 2015? 

How are you going to do this?

 I had the pleasure to meet Severin Fayerman five times in my life.  You may not recognize his name.  The Nazis referred to him as 171952.  He referred to himself as Chairman and CEO of Baldwin Brass.  Being assigned the digits during the Holocaust was not the most life-defining thing that happened to this kind man, who passed away today at the age of 92.

Oh, sure, the Te@chthought prompt is supposed to generate some sort of response about my accepting the digital age, about how I understand and use streaming video, instead of VHS and Beta tapes.  But as I sit here and reflect upon the life of Severin Fayerman, and the question posed today, I can't but help to see the answers converge on celebrating the life and positivity of this kind and gentle businessman.  

I last saw Severin, (and he asked that we call him by his first name),  while visiting with him in his home about nine weeks ago with two of my National History Day students.  He had graciously offered a sit down interview to these two 8th graders, for their documentary entry in the big NHD contest to be held this March.  The girls had done their research, and gathered their digital video equipment, to film his answers to their questions.  The girls were astonished by the six figure sound system that graced the entire wall of his living room, which he explained the intricacies of to us, prior to adjusting the sound to not overpower the taping of the interview.

Severin Fayerman embraced every digit (al) thing ever offered to him, using each and every life experience to improve himself and his world.  He carefully explained to the girls in his interview how proud he was to have become an American, how important learning and life was to him, and emphasized the importance of being open to change and challenges as opportunities for bigger and better things.  He gave an interview that lasted almost two hours, followed by a lovely tour of his home, along with kind conversation on a variety of topics.

The last time I talked to Severin on the phone, to gain permission for use of some copyrighted material for the girls, he ended the conversation by telling me that he was so proud and delighted to have met Ella and Mackenzie.  

I agreed, because they are charming and delightful.  They had handled themselves professionally and politely, and gave me great pride in their abilities and their project.

"Yes," Severin said to me.  "AND they were the very first people who ever interviewed me who asked me about what I became after the Holocaust.  They asked about me and never asked to see my number."

Digits and digital challenges are only as powerful as you let them be in your life.   Severin Fayerman illustrated that during every single moment on this earth.  Tonight there are a few broken hearts in Room 122 at Donegal Junior High.  Along with those tears comes a challenge to move forward with a documentary that does justice to the businessman with the big digital stereo system, who just happened to also have digits inscribed on his arm, who went on to live the American Dream,   and took the time to share it with anyone who would listen.