Thursday, January 25, 2007

David Brin's vision for 3rd millenium problem solving...

David Brin frequently uses the medium of science fiction to describe the future. His webcast at Google is deep and heavy, but the good news about such a complex topic presented in webcast form is the ability to stop and start to let our minds wrap around the subject, even while allowing us to go elsewhere to gain better understanding and background on the subject. Brin talks at length about this ability of society to be both "anticipatory" and "resilient." Katrina is an example of the "professional protective cast" calling a stop to what Brin calls "citizen robustness, a resiliency to deal with the crisis."

The result of engaging the professional protective cast, in this case the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and a myriad of conflicting Federal and state bureaucracies? More chaos, more harm, and extended suffering. Brin points out that the attention economy isn't new. Our pre-civilization ancestors practiced the principles of the attention economy in furthering human evolution. Synchronous, face-to-face skills honed discourse and solved challenges. And just as we do today in the "new" attention economy, our ancestors practiced selective focus by:
Adjusting distance,
Turning to and away from others,
Heeding reputation,
Favoring what's interesting,
Remembering what's important,
Constructing rules of courtesy,
Keeping a train of thought,
And, staying alert for surprise!
His thesis of 21st century problem solving ultimately boils down to the components of :
and Discourse
We shouldn't lose site of these things as we create educational policies that, unintentionally or otherwise, separate us from citizen robustness and resiliency to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cong. Miller on "teaching to the test"...

Congressman George Miller (D-CA) took the helm of the Committee on Education and Labor, one of the most important positions on Capitol Hill. The "No Child Left Behind" Act is up for re-authorization this year. The editors of Edutopia Magazine recently sat down the Cong. Miller and asked him questions about his views on the Federal Government's role in education. I thought Cong. Miller's comments on NCLB, particularly points he made about "teaching to the test" were interesting, and have provided some excerpts here:
First of all, what I think we're starting to see emerge from NCLB is that those schools that are starting to be successful -- where more and more students are learning at grade level, are being proficient -- are those that are rejecting the idea of teaching to the test. The drill-and-kill is doing exactly that: It's killing the appetite for learning among the students. They're not doing any better on the drill-and-kill, and they're not doing any better on the test.

But, again, you come back to this idea of engaging students in the learning experience, in the learning opportunity. And we're starting to see where reading is incorporated throughout the entire curriculum, where mathematics is incorporated throughout much of the curriculum, that students are starting to be engaged in a different way, and it starts to appear that they're doing better on some of the exams.

Where there's cooperative learning, where students are learning from their peers, where teachers are sharing their teaching experiences, where they have time to plan programs, to align the programs to the proficiency of the children, there are a lot of successes out there that we have to focus on.

You can read the entire interview here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Listening to student voices...

There's a way of expressing what new media formats do to the learning paradigm. It goes like this:

I hear; and I forget.

I see; and I may remember.

I do; and I understand.

21st century learners can "do" in ways no previous generations of learners could do, unless we go all the way back to before the era of universal education, when "learners" were put to work in the fields, raised the crops, nurtured the land, and cared for the animals as part of the experience of coming of age.

I regularly ask my students to contribute to my performance. Here's a student, Samantha Velez, speaking for herself about her experience in the IT Leadership Academy program that the Center for 21st Century Skills at Education Connection runs for 400 students in 20 school districts.

powered by

MP3 File