Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things That Have Me Thinking This Week...January 16, 2012

Here are the blog posts and articles that I found most thought provoking during the past week.  Enjoy!

Changing Gears 2012: Undoing Academic Time - Ira Socol

This post from Ira Socol discusses the short-sighted view that our educational uses when thinking about academic time. This topic is one that we all need to discuss with those who set the regulations for time and learning (as if we can regulate when learning happens). If we are going to really allow our students an opportunity for relevant, real-world learning then we need to totally change the rigid nature of how we  define academic time, learning, and school work.

Of course Ira Socol is much more articulate in his post on the topic:
"Assignments need to stop having dates on them. Assignments - such as they may be - need to have goals instead. What are you hoping to accomplish? to learn? to create? to build? to know? to demonstrate? to provoke? How do you think you'll get from "here" to "there." What in the world does a date or a time have to do with that? Why would you even begin to interfere with the learning process by limiting the time? I'll explain, because in the industrial process of schooling 70% of a subject "learned" by a specific moment trumps mastery at some other time. Do I really need to explain how ridiculous that is?"

Cultivating A Culture of Failure - Shelley Wright 

This post by Shelley Wright reminds how important it is to make our students comfortable with failure.    If we are too overprotective of our students and we stop them from moving outside of their comfort zone and challenging themselves then we are not adequately preparing them. When we speak with some of those people who have been most successful throughout history we often hear stories of all of their shortcomings prior to achieving large-scale success. Failure, recovery, reflection, and hard work are all areas that we need to have our students become comfortable with.

Shelley's comments on failure are spot on:
"I’ve been reflecting on what the most important things are for my students to learn. And none of the subect matter I teach comes to mind. Instead, my students need to learn to embrace failure and allow it to be their teacher. Fear of failure prevents us from taking risks.  Prevents us from reaching out to others. Prevents us from becoming who we are meant to be."
 Check out the Michael Jordan video that was also included in the post. 

Finally, Consultants to Schools Who Actually Know What They're Talking About - John Nash

This post hooked me from the beginning, by asking the following question:
"Let's say you're a middle school principal. How can you engage a large group of consultants, each having anywhere between six to eight years of classroom experience, and have them conduct 90 days of observation between the beginning of the school year and November wherein they generate insights on improving curriculum, culture, and student morale? By the way, they won't charge your school district a dime. And the solutions they provide will be exactly what your school needs."
Nash is talking about the obvious resource that many schools tend to overlook, the students.  Who knows better the reality of our current state than the students who spend their entire day in classrooms. If we are truly going to attempt to redesign the way we do school to offer a more relevant experience for our students then we need to start relying on students to help us do this work. Nash also cites the work of Bruce Mau and his book The Third Teacher:
As Bruce Mau notes, "This is actually a pretty radical idea: to open source school, to say 'well, maybe the best source of information on this practice is the participants themselves.' We assume they don't know anything, and I think that's the biggest mistake we make" (p. 225). 
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1 comment:

  1. I don't entirely agree with Ira's statement about time. The world we live in is filled with deadlines. Our scope and sequence is often unrealistic and should never be absolute, but we must teach students that time matters. The lessons students learn from school are bigger than academics. They need to learn time management, how to prioritize, and make responsible choices. We need scope and sequence to keep us on track, but we should use it with a grain of salt. The teachable moment should never be skipped because of time crunch.