This post is for teachers. i mean no disprespect, but...
our minister of education has stated in policy that we need to "reorient away from the organisation to the learner". the school should not be about budgets, testing to show ERO data or telling kids they are not good enough. it should be about empowering them in the skills and attitudes they will need to survive in THEIR future world. not ours.
The world has changed. Teachers need to too. i heard that last year and this year it has been reconfirmed at the learning@schools conference in rotorua this year.
as noted by david warlick, our current yr sevens have virtually no formative recollection of the 20th century. we don't need to train people to sit down, be quiet and play guess what the teacher is thinking - we aren't training them for factories or offices anymore. in fact, we don't know what we are training them for because it will be different by the time the kids have left school. we need to teach kids to learn for themselves. they need to be able to deal with vast amounts of ever changing and growing information, in an often unreliable, yet powerfully connected and rich environment. in short, we are preparing them for a world of unprecedented opportunity; not a world of certainty.
Google processes 1 billion searches per day - that is a lot of questions! inquiry learning is a good start - helping them ask good questions is something we need to keep working on. we can't give up because one unit last year was hard for us. what would we say to them if they wanted to give up? if they kept finding excuses?
in 2003 5 exabytes of new information was generated.
i know what you're thinking... what the heck is an exabyte?!
that is equivalent to 37 Libraries of Congress filled with new tomes. 1/100s of 1% got printed...
we need to embrace 'the net'.
children learn in powerful ways at home every day without us in a vastly connected, responsive, exciting, ever changing, collaborative, problem based, world of instant feedback and challenges. online games.
the skills and attitudes of gaming promote the acquisition of skills and attitudes that are useful for people facing an uncertain informational future environment. [ i think david warlick may have said that.] we make them sit down, be quiet, perform mundane meaningless boring tasks - a lot of the time. many children are published authors of orignal content - how many of us are?
ask yourself when being in your class would excite you. ask how often the task is challenging and has multiple opportunities to try something, reflect on failure and modify strategies.
are we shortchanging them? do they feel they need to 'power down' when they come to school?
they need to learn how to specialise, evaluate, become experts by themselves. we need to be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage - [as someone else has said before.]
we sometimes promote failure rather than opportunity. we are experts at ignoring talent. children have invented a new language, perfect for their needs and we tell them it's wrong and ignore it. we shouldn't stop them from using it - we should help them understand when to use it. we have history's most powerful ever information super highway at our finger tips and we tell ourselves its too risky to use when they use it everyday without us. how dare we contain them? without us they are capable of achieving amazing feats of learning. [i realise i am generalising, but i am not speaking purely from a GATE perspective - i've had kids who struggle to spell their name too].
so, discuss the games they play - bring them into conversations about topics you want to discuss.
use cell phones blogs and wikis to conduct collaborative, cooperative homework assignments with clues and covert operatives.
allow a celebration of the things they invent. give them opportunities to try, try again. teach them how to learn, not what to.
not ledger balancing.
listen to kids.
ask good questions.
but what do i know? good teachers take sports teams, take no risks, have no dramas, cause no fuss - don't they?
take it easy everyone - the world is alive with hope and dreams!
let's allow some to flourish