Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dr. Mitras - New Experiements in Self-Teaching

This is my post from June 30, 2010. Edna Sackson from the What Ed Said blog once again has my mind buzzing with a fascinating set of ideas and values dealing with education. She has introduced me to Dr. Sugata Mitra and his data on technology, children, and learning with children in India. The Hole In The Wall Project shows us the power of what children can learn if they have access to technology. The links below will reveal Dr. Mitra’s work and expand your thinking on children with access to technology. Exciting material!

Now because of the post of Kim Cofino on her blog Always Learning we have an update on the work of Dr. Sugata Mitra. This scientist from India started his Hole-in-the-Wall project in 1999. He began by simply embedding a computer in the wall of a slump area of New Delhi. The idea really began in 1988 when Mitra wrote a short paper expressing the idea that maybe children are capable of learning a whole bunch of things on their own with computers.
In September 2010 Dr. Sugata Mitra gave a TED talk titled New Experiments in Self-Teaching. It is truly amazing to see what Mitra has done with his basis idea that given the opportunity children can teach themselves and each other things not thought possible by the educational community. I guarantee you will be fascinated with Dr. Mitra’s TED talk.

What do you think of Dr. Sugata Mitra’s work? What implication does this have for your teaching? Will this affect your teaching style? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Edutainer

I would like to give credit to the person that tweeted about The Edutainer but short-term memory has left me. Saw the tweet and was off to Amazon. The book just arrived and I found the first chapter most enjoyable. Just taking time to stop and blog a short introduction to The Edutainer – Connecting the Art and Science of Teaching – by Brad Johnson and Tammy Maxson McElory. These two are veteran teachers who understand the lives of contemporary classroom practitioners. It appears from the acknowledgments of the book that a great deal of their information came from the state of Georgia USA. A cleaver table of contents reveals: Edutainer Program, Act I: The Vision, Act II: The Rehearsal, and Act III: The Performance.
Passages I highlighted from Edutainer Program:
The foreword from Dr. Joe Richardson
Utilizing live theater as a metaphor, they argue that teaching, like acting, embraces elements of both science and art: the stage is to the actor as the classroom is to the teacher.
Great emphasis is place upon students assuming responsibility for their own learning.
Likening the classroom to the stage moves us to another level, away from the boundaries that suggest limits and narrow perspectives, to a different sort of arena where we see new possibilities, where imagination and creative impulses flourish and are encouraged.
The Edutainer would be a good resource book across all grade levels and should find its way into teacher training programs as well as staff development initiatives.
From the Introduction
· Research suggests that students are most successful when they “feel” connected to the teacher and classmates.
· Educators in the twenty-first century must take a different approach to teaching if we are to prepare students for an ever-changing world.
· The story behind the edutainer concept is base upon the collaborative effort of the authors’ more than thirty years of combined teaching experience at the K-12 and collegiate level within public and independent school systems.
Scene 1: Connecting Education with the Twenty-First Century
As a visionary, the Edutainer understands that culture plays an important role in shaping our lives.
Embracing these cultural influences not only makes learning more engaging, but also makes it more relevant as well.
Students today often seek to “be” understood rather than seeking to understand others.
However, the Edutainer embraces interaction with parents because it is beneficial for the student and her.
Research even suggests that collegiality among teachers has a positive correlation with student success.
The purpose of this section is to give you strategies to building a collegial relationship with your administration.
Remember, the Edutainer doesn’t just think outside the box, she threw the box away.

With just one chapter read, I can see this light reading educational book would be beneficial to all educators. Now I need to end this blog and get back to The Edutainer. Scene Two – Director’s Chair begins with this quote: “Leadership is about responsibility and action, not title or position.”

Are you an Edutainer? Do you know an Edutainer? Wouldn’t you like to be in a classroom lead by an Edutainer? Would love to hear your comments.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A 21st Century Education documentary film from the New Learning Institute sharing educational innovators. Empowering Young Learners is Stephen Heppell describing his vision for schools and learning as he travels around London. Other documentaries in this series feature Alan November, Elliot Solaway and Cathie Norris, and Yong Zhao. They are all looking to change our views on the model we presently have of schools. You can feel their passion for students and education and hopefully you will be inspired to make changes in the way you deliver lessons to your students.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Public Education Today

I am or have been the following: parent, grandparent, teacher, school administrator, school board member, small business owner, and life long learner. These are my qualifications to give a view of public education in America. I believe many individuals and groups offering opinions have an ulterior motive for the view they share. I also believe there is and has been for a number of years a group or number of groups in America trying to privatize education. Their reasons are varied and for many they are self serving. Let’s leave that for another writing.

It appears, if you can believe the media, public education in America has failed and must be replaced with some type of system that runs education as a business. The belief that is being touted is that if a school is making money then they obviously know what they are doing and are doing it well. If not, they are a failure and need to close shop. Although this movement has been gaining strength for a number of years, I believe the coming election in America has given politicians and private business groups the platform they have been looking for to launch a major attack on public education. A well planned media blitz including the movie “Waiting for Superman”, NBC’s Education Nation, along with major news magazines, and TV personalities jumping on the band wagon campaigning for moving away from public education and looking to the private sector to be the savior of our children’s education.

You might think I would be excited to see the likes of Grassroots Education Movement (GEMHYC) with there video “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman”. Not so. Although many of the individuals, I believe, are very sincere, there may be hidden agendas there also. Unfortunately the politics of education runs very deep and we must look carefully at all sides of this issue.

Public education in America has been one of the major factors behind our rise to a leadership role in the world today. Are there problems in public education? Yes. Do we need to see major changes in public education? Yes. Do we abandon public education in America and move in another direction? No. The New Yorker magazine published an article recently that is much more in line with my thinking. The writer states, “In education, we would do well to appreciate what our country has built, and to try to fix what is undeniably wrong without declaring the entire system to be broken.” Also consider the post on the blog Schools Matter with an article written my Stephen Krashen. The financing of public schools in America certainly plays a critical role in improving public education. Maybe the crisis in American is over blown. Give it some thought. Yes, Finland has a fine education system in place but take a look at the homogeneous make-up of that country. Now compare it to the ethnic and cultural make-up of the melting pot of the world. A huge difference wouldn’t you say? Do you think this might make a difference in test scores being ripped by the proponents backing the move to privatize our public schools?

The solutions to the problems of public education in America will not come easily or quickly. There is no simple fix but there is a plethora of exciting changes taking place in classrooms around the world that will bring about needed changes to improve the lives and education of our precious children, the future decisions makers and leaders of our planet. We in education are the solution! Wake up teachers and educators! With the technology available today, a passion for learning, and an enthusiastic, positive attitude we can make the difference one classroom at a time. Yes, entire school systems may change but it will be the result of a spark provided by one individual. Collaborating with others in our field is so easy today and so necessary if we are to make the critical changes to save public education. I offer the following educators as proof that this is already happening: George Couros, Edna Sackson, Kelly Tenkely, Kevin Jarrett, Vicki Davis, Kathleen McGeady, Pernille Ripp, Chris Wejr, Paul Fuller, Karen Ditzler, Jenny Luca, Richard Byrne, Tom Barrett, Lee Kolbert, Dean Shareski, Tania Sheko, Cory Plough, Silvia Tolisano, Angela Maiers, Karyn Keenan, Jason Bell, Shannon Miller, Kelly Hines, Beth Still, Colette Cassinelli, and Sue Waters.
Are you ready to make your contribution to improving education? Let’s start with your classroom. The educators listed above are leading the way and would love to have you on board for this exciting journey of improving education one classroom at a time.