The home stretch..

As finals come to a close, I’m thinking about the semester: the classes I teach, the cognitive psychology class that I’m taking, and of course, our seminar. I came across a few things this week that seemed to put things into place.

The first is a blog post that I’ve had on my “I will read this as soon as I have time” list, which finally happened this week! It’s a high school physics teacher’s post about his vision for a Physics iBook. Does it contain chapters of a textbook? No. Does it include videos of professors’ lectures? No. It provides students with tools for them to create their own labs and BE scientists not passively “learn” science. I started looking around at his blog posts and found another great one on $2 interactive white boards. Yep, it’s just one of those table sized white boards…and, it’s pretty interactive. Much more so than the ways most teachers use their SmartBoards.

This reoccurring theme of not doing the same old thing with new technology seems so obvious, yet so many resources are used to do just that. Maybe we need to get some department of education folks, school board members, curriculum developers, and state legislators to read Illich and Nelson.

There was also an explosion of new education-focused TED talks. While Ken Robinson always sparks my interest and I love his new talk, there was a new 6 min talk that some of you may have missed by a high school chemistry teacher discussing motivation, science, a kid’s innate curiosity, and what we can do to capitalize on (instead of killing) it.

Seminarians, you are awesome

Wednesday’s seminar was a blast; I couldn’t have been happier to be a part of the Mind Squad! For all of you seminarians who are reading this, thanks so much for jumping right in feet first.

Joycelyn’s idea to have the groups tie Illich to the Hip Hop lyrics was so inspired and Kimberley’s suggestion to have all of you bring in your the artifacts was such a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about each of you.

And the students! Wow, Tony and Gardner, what a great idea to bring them in as your artifacts! Can I please steal all of those students away and have them take my course?

How do we proceed in deschooling society? It seems like apprenticeship programs are starting to become fashionable again; that’s at least a start. With meet up, I think people are forming their own peer networks and I do know of a couple adopt a physicist programs where students and teachers can be in contact with a content “expert.” I’m torn on how to balance letting students choose their interest and also engaging students with some sort of basic literacy in all content fields. Educators and practitioners can make their content appealing in order to motivate students, but without a centralized school, the students would have to already be interested enough to find us. Maybe each student would need to meet with at least one person from a variety of fields?

Perhaps we can adopt Google’s 80/20 but instead of the 80% being traditional school, the 80% is the content/problem solving that we want them to learn, but they can be creative and have choice in how they go about learning that content.

What I do know is that my little elementary-school aged nephew and niece love to learn (whenever I visit, they love doing science experiments, trying new origami, learning new skills in sports), but getting them to do their homework is already a battle for their parents and seeing letter grades and test scores on a 4th grader’s report card is just a little disconcerting.

Finally, Terry’s point about citizenship is one that I thought about a lot when I was teaching undocumented high school students. I think we should have a country of engaged, critical thinkers who know how their society functions and seek to make it better. I strongly feel like part of my job is to educate our youth to be informed citizens who have developed a scientific way of thinking. Even though many of them couldn’t participate as citizens in the legal sense, many of them displayed citizenship: they volunteered in the community, pushed for social justice, and hardly ever took a moment of their education for granted (especially when compared to our US-born students).