Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Out of Our Minds

In reading Sir Ken Robinson's book, Out of Our Minds, I came across a section that talks about connecting education, business, and culture.  In this section, Robinson states that policy makers typically emphasize a small group of subjects that, "tie schools up in a culture of standardized testing and limit the discretion of educators to make professional judgments about how and what to teach."  In my whopping two years as a school leader, I have committed myself to trusting the professional judgment of the faculty and staff of NSE.  The most important thing that I can do is hire and maintain highly qualified and ethically driven people to do what is best for elementary children.

Robinson goes on to talk about what business leaders desire when it comes to human resources.  They "urgently need: people who are literate, numerate, who can analyze information and ideas; who can generate new ideas of their own and help to implement them; who can communicate clearly and work well with other people."  To be honest I am not so sure that is what we always assess (PASS, MAP, etc...).  The good news is that the common core standards and assessment (Smarter Balance) seem to be heading in the right direction.    

Robinson states that parents want children who can be economically independent.  They want an education system that will identify their child's unique talents and to lead a life that has meaning and purpose.  Does our current education system support such an effort?  If you get a chance, watch this video of Cain's Arcade.  This is a great example of how to tap into a "child's" passion and inspire him to become or accomplish something great.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A New Culture of Learning

Okay, I got a little sidetracked from Sir Ken Robinson's book (Out of Our Minds) and started reading the book, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  The authors provide a very interesting view of how learning and what is becoming an international pastime, gaming, are related.  Instead of summing up each chapter or each part of the book, I am going to quote the last sentence of the book; "...where imaginations play, learning happens."

As an eighteen year veteran of public education, I found the statement below rather painful to read:

"Different people, when presented with exactly the same information in exactly the same way, will learn different things.  Most models of education and learning have almost no tolerance for this kind of thing.  As a result, teaching tends to focus on eliminating the source of the problem: the student's imagination." (Ouch!).

We all learn more and faster when our imaginations, emotions, interests, fears, etc... are part of the learning.  I am not a "gamer" by any stretch of the imagination, but do understand what the authors of this book are saying about teaching and learning in the 21st century.