Sunday, June 29, 2008

"A Smart Person is Never Bored"

I grew up in a household with a teacher for a mother. Now, this gives me a unique perspective when dealing with my own kids since I chose the noblest of professions as well. (ok, yes, I just showed my bias) Not only was my mother a teacher but I had four siblings. Our house never lacked for activity. However, my mother did not set out to "entertain" the kids. On the contrary, she expected we would find ways to entertain ourselves, to fill our time with experiences that were meaningful to us. She would always tell us, "A smart person is never bored." What she meant by that was that a smart person could always find something meaningful to do: read a book, ride a bike, make up games, use your imagination in creative ways.

All of this came to mind as I was reading Will Richardson's blog post entitled, "Get Off the Computer!" He talks about an experience he had with his own children. Additionally, Laura Deisley, in her blog post entitled "Drumming it Out," addressed the same issue as a reaction to Richardson's post by reflecting upon her own childhood. It is interesting to me that edubloggers are bringing this issue to light. I have thought for some time that the children growing up in our present society are being conditioned to "expect" to be entertained, not "bored."

Maybe this is a product of our educational system? Ok, just stay with me for a minute here. When at school if all a child experiences is an education that is "done to him/her," (i.e. lecture) then a child becomes conditioned to sit back and wait for people to bring things to him/her. Think about the opposite for a minute. When a child experiences a classroom that is active and student-centered, then he/she gets the message that learning is not something "done to him/her" but something he/she must do.

I said earlier that my mother expected us kids to use our imaginations in creative ways. I remember my brothers putting on a lion tamer's show for a birthday party for me and my sister. I remember many a summer day in the garage playing "school" or playing "The Price is Right." All of these kinds of experiences encourage creativity. After reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind and Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody, I am left with this question: Can we really afford not to encourage creativity-building experiences for our kids?

Image Source: Flickr, original uploaded by keb

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

K12 Learning 2.0

Among other things that I am involved with this summer, I am coaching a group of educators through an online class called K12 Learning 2.0. Shelley Paul from Woodward Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, came up with this professional development class after becoming familiar with PLCMC Learning 2.0. The course is designed as a self-guided online learning adventure. I provide guidance through regular help sessions (online and face to face), email and phone support. I am using wiziQ for the online help session platform. The class is pretty intensive but the teachers involved with it this summer seem to be managing pretty well for the most part. This past spring, I had a group of teachers go through this class but only two actually finished. The demands of the school year combined with the intensive nature of the course (for the average teacher)seemed too much. I am planning to revise and "chunk" the "things" creating a part 1 and a part 2 to build in a structure that hopefully will encourage more success during the school year. This class has really opened up a whole new world for me in terms of professional development opportunities for educators. It truly is a new kind of professional development.

Labels: , ,