Posts Tagged ‘school’
The game of school is to follow the rules that are no longer in sync with the rest of the world and not necessarily benefitting students.
The game is based on a world that is past its sell by date. The game is easy to play because it is predictable.
It is the worst kind of game because it only relies on competition and repetition.
The creator of the video said it best:
The fallacy of competitive education is its obsession with remembered right answers. The fallacy of right answers is that today success depends less on right answers and more on finding good answers and using them to accomplish meaningful goals. What does the game of school do to children who are more inclined to find and invent good answers than memorize correct answers?
Many thanks to @mcleod for “transcribing” that from the video.
I received a printed notification from my son’s school that he needs to buy an electronic dictionary.
On one hand, I am glad that the school has taken half a step forward in going paperless. On the other, I wonder if that step is worth the while.
We already have electronic dictionaries in his iPad. They are either free or cost very little compared to another electronic device.
The school authorities will argue that an iPad costs much more or that students might lose/steal the iPads and that it could be a source of disruption.
The iPad costs much more because it is a multifunction device. The electronic dictionary is a monofunction device.
An iPad has players and recorders (for audio, photo, video), at least one Web browser, communication tools, notebook, clock, reminder list, contacts list, calendar, etc.
Install apps and the device becomes a dictionary, thesaurus, QR code reader, feed collector, newspaper, e-book reader, white board, social media centre, gaming device, data collector, entertainment centre, presenter, media editor, remote control, map, travel planner, and more.
You can squeeze just about every and any textbook and assessment book into the iPad. The device can hold its charge the whole school day. The school does not have to provide every student with an iPad if they adopt a BYOD policy (you bring what you have, we provide only for those who do not have one).
The iPad then becomes like the school uniform. Everyone has one and is required to have one.
What schools then need to think about and act upon are access and usage policies, insurance, and technical support. Those are administrative disruptions that might be inconvenient but are necessary.
The better disruptions come in the form of learning how to teach with mobile devices. Do you deliver or do you facilitate? When do you focus on content or thinking skills? How do you manage classes differently?
I have other thoughts about telling kids to buy monofunction devices:
- These officially approved devices benefit vendors or companies in the long run
- They become yet another item to carry (or lose) in overloaded bags
- These devices cannot be updated as quickly as apps and slates can
- They are a means of maintaining old school habits instead of developing new and relevant ones
We will not have a choice but to get the electronic dictionary because not getting it means my son lacks a tool in his kit. That is like being forced to buy another old screwdriver when I already have a better set of screwdrivers, a Swiss Army knife, or an electronic screwdriver.
But that is not going to stop parents or educators like me who want to prepare our kids with multifunction devices in a multifacted world.
by Total Mayhem
How often have we heard the phrase, “I am old school in that I prefer…”? For example, instead of sending e-cards or reading e-books, someone might say that they prefer writing actual cards or thumbing paper-based books.
“Old school” usually refers to some past practice or dying art form. It is viewed more positively and it might even be cool to be old school. For example, one might prefer vinyl records to MP3 files or to chemically develop film instead of using digital photographs.
Whatever the case “old” is associated with “school”. Why? The association arises from the perception that schools are like that.
Like what? For me, that means being stubbornly old fashioned, resistant to change, and unreasonably conservative.
In this day and age, we cannot afford to just be old school, charming as some practices might be. Most of us have moved beyond the need to milk our own cows, dig our own toilets, and chisel stone to write.
Likewise, in modern education, we should move beyond the perceived need to just lecture, teach to the test, and use the classroom walls to define the world. The rest of the world has moved on or is realizing that it needs to move on quickly.
Nowadays we do not need a school building and the teachers that come with it to get an education. We just need to know how to consolidate the resources and expertise online for free or for a fee. When enough people start to do this at all levels of education, old schools will cease to be relevant.
Perhaps the old school folks need to know why and how the new ways are better. Perhaps they need to draw inspiration from their learners who already know how to learn (until we tell them otherwise). Perhaps some of them just need to get out of the way.
I love Scott McLeod’s “26 Internet safety talking points“. Here is a sample:
Mobile phones, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, Wikispaces, Google, and whatever other technologies you’re blocking are not inherently evil. Stop demonizing them and focus on people’s behavior, not the tools, particularly when it comes to making policy.
You don’t need special policies for specific tools. Just check that the policies you have are inclusive of electronic communication channels and then enforce the policies you already have on bullying, cheating, sexual harassment, inappropriate communication, illicit behavior, etc.
Why are you penalizing the 95% for the 5%? You don’t do this in other areas of discipline at school. Even though you know some students will use their voices or bodies inappropriately in school, you don’t ban everyone from speaking or moving. You know some students may show up drunk to the prom, yet you don’t cancel the prom because of a few rule breakers. Instead, you assume that most students will act appropriately most of the time and then you enforce reasonable expectations and policies for the occasional few that don’t.
When a blog article is this good, there is little to add. Except to add it to a list of bookmarks, Evernote, Diigo, Delicious, etc. for future reference!
My son enjoyed a break from school thanks to school closures due to PSLE oral exams and Hari Raya Puasa. But it does not take a five-day weekend to make my son go “Aww, school!” on the day that he has to return to it.
What is wrong with school? Here are his top three reasons: Homework, boring lessons, and not being allowed to pursue his interests.
Homework was one of last week’s #edchat topics: Is homework helpful and practical or just a carry over from a bygone culture of 19th & 20th century education?
I do not think that homework is bound to any particular time frame. Homework is a function of a dominant mindset or culture of a schooling system. With homework, the mindset is often rote-bound, practice-makes-perfect, or teaching to the test. I tell, you practice, you give back. Repeat.
There are certainly times to promote practice or mastery learning. But homework is not always implemented with these in mind. Instead, homework is sometimes a last resort when a teacher cannot finish something in class, because the teacher knows no other way, or because it has always featured in schooling.
Homework becomes a chore. Homework becomes a bore.
A few weeks ago, my son confided that he almost feel asleep in class. He had never done this before. When I asked him why, he told me that the teacher was boring.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Talking does not ensure anyone is listening. Teacher talk does not lead automatically to learning; it only gives the illusion of learning.
Some teachers compound the problem by giving students lots of homework because too much time is spent on teacher talk. “Homework” should actually be done in class so that the teacher can coach, differentiate instruction, or encourage peer learning. That is one reason why the flipped classroom is gaining attention.
Schooling is still largely a one-size-fits-all and industrial process. It is far easier to treat everyone the same and attempts to individualize instruction and learning are largely rhetoric.
Take my son’s recent enrichment art class organized by his school (it is called the Programme for Active Learning or PAL for short). He was told to shape Angry Birds with clay.
When my son mentioned that he wanted to make a square bird (influenced no doubt by Minecraft), he was told to make the bird round or triangular. So much for promoting choice and creativity!
I am reminded of the saying “It takes a village to educate a child”. I would not include the village idiots. Others would be wary of unsavory characters.
Sadly, a few teachers have fallen into these categories of late. More insidious is the teachers who simply keep teaching they way they were taught.
Today, the child can learn by finding information on his or her own and by relying on a few wise and even global villagers. But with schooling evolving so slowly, another saying is rising to the surface: “To educate a child takes a lot of patience, in particular for the child”.
It is Friday and it is time for something light.
Earlier this week, I experienced my first MRI scan. It was nothing serious. A doctor just wanted a better look into my right leg that I have injured several times over the years.
I had to take all metal objects off my body for the procedure. When I changed into my hospital gown, I noticed the following warnings on a sign in the changing room.
But I had to wonder just how old the sign was. How many of us still carry floppy disks or consider a beeper (pager) a precision electronic instrument?
I was also wondering why anyone would want to bring mops, vacuum cleaners, and wagons to their MRI appointment.
I thought to myself: What an old school warning sign! Then I began to wish that there were warning signs for old school mindsets and practices.
I think I just found a pet project…
This is my take on a blogger’s entry titled Is school like work?
I am opting to ask if work is like school.
If work is a factory, then yes, work is like school.
If the staff are knowledge workers, then they have to learn all the time. Like school, there is class-like training. But much more of the learning happens just-in-time, on-the-job, at the water cooler or other social circumstances. It is quite unlike school.
Is school like work? It could be, but it should not because it can be so much more.
Is work like school? It sometimes is, but it cannot afford to be because it has to do so much more.
Sometimes I get asked to give talks at seminars. I have a standard reply: I try not to give talks because not everyone is ready to listen.
Recently, I was asked to give a talk on game-based learning for an ICT seminar at a local institute. As my schedule was packed, I suggested that they watch my TED talk and we could video conference if needed. The organizers preferred that I be physically present.
I pointed out that the seminar was supposed to be about the power of ICT in education and that we would be using ICT while talking about ICT-mediated strategies. The organizers did not relent, nor did I.
I do not believe in giving only talks about ICT. I prefer workshops where we can uncover the whys, hows, and so whats of ICT, roughly in that order. A seminar is not the best way to do this.
So if any of the organizers read this, know that I said no on principle. And thank you for reminding me why I stick to my guns.
This is my final thought on last week’s MOE Work Plan Seminar (WPS) 2011. Honest!
I just started following @LeticiaBongnino on Twitter. This is a parody account of “a celebrity maid”.
Many of her tweets are hilarious and here are two that have accidental relevance to the main theme of the WPS:
You can pay for school, but you can't buy class.—
Leticia Bongnino (@LeticiaBongnino) July 30, 2011
Knowledge is power, and power corrupts. So study hard and be evil.—
Leticia Bongnino (@LeticiaBongnino) July 11, 2011
Tongue-in-cheek the tweets may be, but there is truth behind the humour. They give us something to chew on as we attempt to better integrate values into schooling.
A former teacher trainee of mine contacted me recently because she could not believe what she was experiencing in school.
She had just started her teaching practicum and was upset to learn that she could not use her own computer to access the Internet via the school’s network. She emailed me to verify if this was policy.
At the moment it is. A non-sanctioned personal computer cannot be part of the MOE network due to security protocols.
Only full-time teachers might be provided with laptops that are recognized by the network. But to add insult to injury, the teachers are unlikely to have administrative rights to the laptop.
So my former trainee and her personal laptop are in limbo, right? Not always. Some schools provide alternatives like shared PCs or wireless access for personal computers.
The problem lies with a one-size-fits-all approach to providing Internet access even though there are different types of teachers and an assortment of Internet-capable devices.
Take my wife as an example. A few years ago, my wife decided to return to teaching as an adjunct teacher. There are other types of educators: teaching assistants, relief teachers, part-timers, para-educators like counsellors and education service vendors, etc.
While these folks might spend significant amounts of time on school premises, they are not given equal access to the Internet. The schools might be bound by MOE policy or they enforce their own.
These educators and service providers bring their own laptops, netbooks, slates, smartphones and other devices. From a policymaker’s or administrator’s point of view, this is a security nightmare. From a professional educator’s point of view, this might represent untapped learning opportunities.
So what are these educators to do? I recommend they help themselves.
When my wife’s Macbook was not authorized on the school’s wireless network (or when a classroom was out of wifi range), she tethered her iPhone to the laptop in order to show YouTube videos to seed discussion.
So look at what you have first before lamenting about what you don’t. Don’t underestimate the impact of the growing BYOD (bring your own device) movement. If BYOD does not cut it, write a grant to get the funding you need to innovate.
With the grant money you could get a 3G USB dongle plus 3G subscription and a “mifi” device (we have the Huawei and Dlink devices in Singapore). You plug the former into the latter and use the combination to create ad hoc networks for you and your students to use. This can be done anywhere a reliable 3G signal is available.
A final tip: Educate your Head of ICT or align yourself to a progressive one. The ones I have met (and the ones I managed to influence) have found innovative ways to balance security with access.
Eventually policies can change. Guests on the NIE campus can now get wifi access by SMS (see 27 Apr 11 item). UNISIM has an entirely free and public network that is separate from its other networks.
Until policies change, help yourself. Then do something to change backward policies.