Archive

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Learning is transformational, can schooling come close?

February 7, 2011 2 comments

Image credit: University of Gloucestershire

This post has been originally posted at the Cooperative Catalyst. I am reposting here — with minor edits — to broaden the audience and hopefully get additional feedback.

After reading Gatto, I make a distinction between education and schooling. Schooling is, at least in its current form, a way to govern education, but more often than not, education can happen without it — as millions of home-schoolers in US and many other countries and numerous important people through history that didn’t go to school can attest to!

What I came to realize lately is that despite the fact that we mostly think of education and learning to be similar, they’re different in two important aspects. Education and learning are usually described as the acts of acquiring knowledge, behaviors or skills — when defining education, Wikipedia refers to these as formative effects on the mind, character and physical abilities, but those are just different technical definitions of the same things.

Though learning and education sound like synonyms, learning goes beyond and includes the act of acquiring (or changing) values and preferences. On top of that, learning may involve synthesizing different types of information. I think these two aspects of learning are greatly important to anyone looking at reforming the current schooling system. Moreover, they should be considered by all parents and teachers when thinking about education choices and methods.

I’ll try to explain this with three stories, but before that, let me give you some thoughts to keep in mind when reading the stories.
Read more…

Please don’t take my blanket away!

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

This post was originally posted at the Cooperative Catalyst.

Image credit: Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts

As I was taking my younger daughter to her daycare this morning, making sure I don’t forget her favorite stuffed toy — Piglet, of Winnie the Pooh fame ;-) — a sequence of pictures flashed in front of my eyes:

The warmth of our home, causing my brain to recall familiar smells from the baking in the oven and family voices mixing in a symphony of noise my ears could enjoy forever, making me forgetting all about the milk my daughters spilled this morning on the floor as they were chasing around the dining table.

The inviting playfulness of my daughter’s daycare, with the chaos of toys, crayons, drawings providing happy food to my soul, despite the fact I am late for a meeting and getting to the exit door seems to take forever as me and a handful of other parents try to avoid stepping on the little fingers that seem to be in almost every square foot of the floor.

The messy desk at work is full of family photos, yellowing old paper with some uplifting message I must have printed ages ago that says I should chin up to challenges , my daughters’ pile of drawings and crafts mixed up with project plans and architecture diagrams — all bringing comfort to my emotional brain, even though I feel stressed as I can’t find that report I printed for the customer meeting in 5 minutes.

Suddenly, my older daughter’s tidy classroom full of organized boxes, lined up tables and chairs, sorted books, etc. looked strangely uncomfortable. As I was puzzling why I didn’t noticed that 30 minutes ago as I was dropping her off first before driving to the daycare, I realized I couldn’t see any object in the classroom that had emotional value for me or that I could connect with any of the other three pictures that popped in my brain just before.
Read more…

I invite you to my learning!

December 30, 2010 10 comments

Photo credit: Salzburg Mountain Advent (Grossarl valley)

Unfortunately, I have to admit that I don’t spend much time in the kitchen — though the time I do, when making the few things I know how to, feels quite good! Therefore, I was excited the other day to try and bake apple strudels after my wife tried out an easy recipe with a pre-made dough one could buy from a supermarket — I know, we’re cheating, but the strudels taste great nonetheless and we all enjoy them in the family so much that not one survives for more than few hours, no matter the quantity. ;-)

My older daughter (6) decided that letting daddy do it alone was not fair so she set out to help me — or rather do almost everything herself. I am all for letting the kids learn through experience, but when she reached for the knife to cut the dough I hesitated for reasons I can’t explain — after all, she’s been using a knife for long time and the worst thing that could happen was that the dough pieces would not turn out perfect squares (big deal!).

Anyway, I sobered up and let her cut the dough and do as much of the work as she wanted, standing happily on her side and marveling at the happiness at her face as she was doing it! Of course, being six, her attention got diverted by a new cartoon that started playing on the computer she left running when joining me in the kitchen so after about 5 minutes I was left alone to finish the preparation and do the baking. Still, in those 5 minutes I felt I helped her learn something, though I wouldn’t call myself a “teacher” for what I did!
Read more…

Sir Ken Robinson and healthy food

December 18, 2010 1 comment

“Had I the heavens embroidered cloths, Enwrought with gold and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet; But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” ~ W.B. Yeats

“And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson

Image credit: Jamie Oliver (TED 2010)

Recently, I ran into a blog post from a middle school teacher who asked his students to explain how would they reform school. A noble idea to be commended! — you might say. That’s what I thought too, but then I saw the answers, including:

  • Better cafeteria food with real ingredients
  • A monthly educational field trip
  • iPads, netbooks or laptops in classes
  • More freedom in terms of leaving to use the restroom, eating a snack or getting a drink of water, etc.

Something feels wrong! Of course, there were some great ideas in the complete list — like more electives, feedback instead of marks, and community service once a week — but somehow the list suggested that all of the problems with the current education system can be resolved if we buy few iPads, stop making kids suffer with a full bladder till the end of the lesson and throw in a field trip or two?!

Looking at the list made me remember a lesson I learned in my career in software development — and somehow always forget and need to re-learn: Users (don’t!) always know what is best for them! Sometimes it takes someone from outside to notice what they’re doing wrong and show them alternative ways.
Read more…

Superman got it wrong – public schools matter!

December 13, 2010 8 comments

Image Credit: Hip Slope Mama

With all due respect to Davis Guggenheim I think he got it wrong in Waiting For Superman! Public schools have something to offer no other educational institution, be that charter schools, private schools, boarding schools, even the various forms of homeschooling can.

If you read my previous posts where I question the value of formalized education as we know it, you must be thinking I went crazy or got change of heart. Please be patient and let me walk you trough this post by telling you few stories first. We’ll talk again at the end of the post if you have any questions! ;-)

The first story is personal, involving my family and few friends with school age kids.

Ever since my older daughter reached school age (currently in grade 1) the question which school to choose loomed large on our lives. At the time my perspective on formalized education hasn’t shifted too much from the traditional view that you need to get educated and get good grades to be successful, even though I already had a chance to listen to Sir Ken Robinson by then.
Read more…

Attention please! I just stopped paying attention – to you!

December 7, 2010 38 comments

Image credit: Gary Olsen (Dubuque Community Schools)

No, you’re not annoying, just boring! Attention is the new currency in our world and you need to offer something in exchange if you want me to listen to you. Telling me what to do, how to do it, when to do it doesn’t cut it anymore. Teaching me old solutions for old problems doesn’t inspire me anymore. I get what I need to learn to cope in this world from other places!

Yes, I learn from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, blogs… I learn from my neighbor who is obsessed with vintage cars and spends all his free time with oil on his hands. I learn from William half across the world who harnessed the wind to save his family from starving. I learn from Mark up in Maine pondering the question of mind while wondering if his bees have lessons for human communities.

I learn by exploring, digging, experimenting, opening, tinkering, building, hacking and playing with toys, plants, animals, rocks, wood, and all kinds of stuff — yes, even power tools!
Read more…

Inspiring learning or learning inspiration?

November 21, 2010 11 comments

Learning to unlearn is the highest form of learning. ~ Buddhist proverb

At its very core, education is an innate expression of curiosity; a longing to understand and be part of the world; a manifestation of purpose and passion that every person carries within them. ~ Carey Elizabeth Smith, Co-Director of the Body Therapy Institute*

Image credit: IQ Matrix

I’ve been troubled lately with the question “How do we learn?” I don’t mean specifically  how kids learn in school, or how adults learn at a new job position… I’m rather curious how do we learn anything in general!
Read more…

Crying for Superman, waiting for Mr. Anderson

November 8, 2010 8 comments

Image credit: Babble.com

Imagine your friends are doing research around the schools they consider for their kids and they ask for your advice. You decide to do a bit of digging yourself and soon you end up with this:

“It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” — Albert Einstein, one of the most influential and best known scientists and intellectuals of all time

“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.” — Agatha Christie, British writer, famous for her detective novels

“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mundane educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom, go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts.” — Frank Zappa, American composer, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director

What advice would you give to them?

Curious as you are, you start to grow interest in the history of education: How compulsory schooling started? Why — if these thinkers are right about it strangling curiosity — it got so widely accepted? …
Read more…

Passion worth spreading – Fast Forward Inspiration @ TEDxUBC

October 27, 2010 6 comments

Image Credit: HNBD / Jeff Arsenault

I know self-organization is possible! After all we know that life emerged from the chemical soup that was Earth ~ 4 billions of years ago — through nothing else but self-organization at molecular level. I guess something must make this Universe inherently capable of self-organization at many levels.

But to see self-organization including people with completely different backgrounds — at any level you can imagine: from education, to skills, to profession, to culture! — come together to organize an event like TEDxUBC was a mind-boggling experience for me!

I won’t explain what TED and TEDx stand for. If you haven’t heard them before, I encourage you to check the TED and TEDx sites. It is probably worth explaining what TEDxUBC is, though!

TEDxUBC is few things! It is a quest to figure out how should secondary, post-secondary and lifelong learners be prepared for a world moving fast forward at breakneck speed? It is a conference that brings educators, business people and enthusiasts to share their ideas about transforming education. It is a movement to stir the public and various institutions into action to implement those ideas. It is a bunch of passionate people coming together to change the world in their own little way!
Read more…

While US waits for Superman, kids in the world are drafted as failures

October 13, 2010 15 comments

UPDATE: Schooling the World is now available for purchase on DVD! The profit will be donated to nonprofit groups concerned with rethinking education and cultural survival. http://schoolingtheworld.org/film/store/

Today, I watched a profoundly disturbing film! It completely shattered my view of education as a progressive force in the world — even if the system in place is seriously outdated, I never really questioned the intrinsic value of education as a way out of poverty, as a way to move humanity into their future. Director Carol Black and the Lost People Films crew disillusioned me in the first 10 minutes of their fantastic film — Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden — and I had trouble dealing with all of the mixed thoughts and emotions throughout the rest of the film!

Read more…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: