Jedi, year 7, & other drugs.

When I heard the word Gedi /ˈdʒɛd.aɪ/ for the first time, I though directly in Jedi from the Star Wars movie. Then it turned out to be a completely different term which is an abbreviation for “Graduate Education Development Institute”.  Well, does Jedi have anything to do here?, the answer is yes. The Jedi is an individual who uses a special force to fight for peace and justice. The first thing that this individual needs to do is to study the energy of this force. This leads us directly to learning. Specifically, to a type of learning that did not take place in a school.

Learning beyond the school should be seen as normal and essential for every one. A man should keep looking for knowledge all his lifetime and learn from all the situations he faces in his life. Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Being well-known, what else could be said about this type of learning? Well, this type of learning now affects students in school-age. As information becomes available everywhere today, students tend to learn not only from school but also from every source they could get their hands on. Students in school begin to learn about specific topics according to the curriculum. Topics in the curriculum are selected by some experts to suit students’ age and to include indispensable topics for the kids. However, kids should be encouraged to look at other sources of information especially in the topics they like.

In this context, I want to share my experience with my second grader son who began to get involved with this type of learning in his seventh year. My son studied about planets and space among other topics in science. He became very interested in these topics and began asking a lot of questions. The same happened in some topics in social studies. His teacher at the school told us to get him more books  in the topics he likes. This helped him to get deeper in these topics. I also allowed him to use voice-enabled search engines on my tablet, or phone, to get answers for what he wonders about. To get the point from this, I see that kids should not be limited to what there in school books. We should encourage them to learn more and more about what they like or get interested in. Socrates said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

The next question is, do students need these curricula or they could only learn about what they like? My point of view is that, students still need to learn about essential topics. For example, it is not good to have a scientist who know nothing about the history of his country or about another branch of science. So students need to integrate what they learn in school with their personal interest stimulated by topics studied at school, this type of learning is known as connected learning.

Back to my title, the next half of the title reads “& other drugs”.  Actually, this is a reflection to the movie “Love & other drugs”. In this movie, one company was producing a drug for blood pressure. The drug was not so effective in treating blood pressure but it had other side effects that allowed it to help many men in having successful relations. The company of course developed the drug to serve this, but my point here is they learned from a side, meant to be a bad, effect. This also relates to connected learning, learning from experiences or career relevant sources is a an important aspect of connected learning.

In a nutshell, connected learning is inevitable due to the huge sources of information available these days. It should only be oriented from mentors to the way that helps students.

6 thoughts on “Jedi, year 7, & other drugs.

  1. This is a major discussion that happens in many fields. As I have found in design there is less of a binary between good and bad. Instead there is a continuum.

    I believe there needs to be a curriculum to expose students to topics. At some level there needs to be some standardization to allow for people to have a similar knowledge base, but then learn specialties as they become interested. Would I know I liked it if I did not know it existed?

    It is easy to know what we know, but incredible difficult to know what is unknown. The ability to reflect and identify interests is the first steps toward engaged learning (as your son has shown) then next is the ability to find others who can challenge and support his growth (and this is the foundation of connected learning) as a community of critically minded individuals.

    1. Exactly. In engineering, we say our world is continuous not discrete. This means we not only have the extreme levels but everything in between, that is coincide with the continuum you mentioned.
      And yes children should learn not only what they like now as who knows, they might like other things when they get to know them.

  2. Thanks so much for riffing on Star Wars. I meant to note in class last week that in our context, GEDIs “use the force to cultivate curiosity.” And it’s amazing what kind of insight we as educators glean from watching our children go through the school system. It’s all about balance, isn’t it? Nurturing creativity and curiosity while helping them develop skills and habits of mind that will stand them in good stead no matter what road they take in life?

    1. Thanks for your reply. Yes, I think it is all about balance. You get the most of everything when you balance your responses. The same for kids, we need to balance between allowing them to go in one direction and giving them the basics for many directions.

  3. I think what resonates most with me in your post is that there is need for a structured curricula even in this new digital age. I also agree that both teachers and parents play an important part in nurturing a child’s talents and interests. A child can and should learn outside the classroom and the school books. When I was growing up the internet was still a buzz word, but I was fortunate enough to have parents and teachers who would urge me to pursue my interests outside of class – I fondly remember looking up topics to read in the Encylopedia we had at home and later on ENCARTA! Ofcourse with the new digital age pursuing these interests is a lot easier.

  4. When you mention your son in your post, it brought back a wonderful memory of my parents from childhood. Whenever my sister or I would ask “What does (fill in the blank) mean?” we would get a response of “Look it up!”. Of course they would answer our first question or two, but more often than not, that was our answer. This was back in the day before computers, smart phones, and connected learning. Their encouragement for us to explore our curiosities is probably what got me into a doctoral program at this stage in life! Even now, as I’m just starting my second semester of what is considered a “terminal” degree in my field, I can already hear the question forming of “what’s next?”. Guess I am truly a life-long learner. Thanks for your thoughts and the post!

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