Posts Tagged ‘schooling’
I found this video thanks to my RSS feed and a short blog entry by @mcleod. A young man shares his thoughts on education in the video.
He contrasted how schooling was like a fountain that reused water while education could be more like a stream where the water was fresh,and ever-changing.
I would add that fountains are pretty to look at but artificial. Stream may flow in a less controlled environment but they are more natural. We also condition our children to appreciate fountains instead of streams.
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 like this video!
I would like it even more if the term “education” was replaced with “schooling” because the terms are not synonymous.
Technology alone will certainly not fix schooling. It is the folks who wield it passionately and skillfully who can.
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 some more than others probably feel like they really need this weekend.
On most weeks it is my son who appreciates Fridays the most in my family. You might expect that of a child who goes to school, but if you delve into the reasons you begin to understand why.
As a parent, it saddens me to hear the same downbeat “Meh!” or “Boring!” response to the question “How was school today?” I might as well ask if the sea was still salty. The answers are so predictable.
Earlier this week he told that he experienced something new. I expected something positive but I was wrong. He told me that he almost feel asleep in class because the teacher droned on and on. Apparently, he was not the only one.
Yesterday he looked forward to a pottery enrichment class organized by the school. He was hoping to throw some clay on a wheel and make his own pencil holder or LEGO container.
Instead he was told to make an Angry Birds scene. When he said he wished to make a squarish bird, a teacher told him that he could only make a round or triangular one.
Angry Birds? How about two Angry Parents? Disappointed Child, Disappointed Parents. These are not fun games to play because everybody loses. (Actually, Angry Birds is fun while the other three are not!)
Some parents worry about their kids getting low grades. I worry about my son losing the joy of learning and having creativity and curiosity squeezed out of him.
I worry about teachers who stop being educators because they only care about grades and because they stop learning. I worry about them not questioning the status quo and not fighting for what is right.
When people visit my room, it is the first thing they comment on. I tell them that it serves as a reminder of why I chose to be in education and to be a teacher educator. Outside my office, I tell the preservice and inservice teachers who take my courses half-in-jest that I do not really care about them. I care about the kids that they affect.
One of my favourite quotes comes from a school vice-principal in Singapore. She said that we have 21st century learners being taught by 20th century teachers in 19th century classrooms.
I want those teachers to change their mindsets and their behaviours so that they are at least current and ideally future-oriented. I want them to be lead learners, change agents, and models of creativity and curiosity.
I like to tell teachers that if we do not reach them (our learners and their expectations), we will not be able to really teach them. So I teach them (teachers) so that they can reach them (our kids).
Put in the want ads section of the paper, the ad was a novel way to bring eyeballs to the cause.
It also got me thinking about how school is supposed to prepare kids for their future work, and more specifically, the future of work.
If the kids are going to work obediently in factories, schools are doing a fine job. If they are not, then our schools are sorely lacking.
At the risk of sounding ridiculous, what if the ad above was real? How does one prepare a learner to be a torturer?
That example is not realistic given that the ad is a spoof. But it must be said that a few people are trained to do this kind of work, just not conventionally.
What is realistic are future jobs like in-game bodyguards. Not real life bodyguards, but protectors and guides in video games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. As the linked article reveals, one such bodyguard is a 15-year-old boy from England.
Some might say that being an in-game bodyguard is the boy’s hobby and not his career. Before you pooh-pooh that idea, consider the rise of cyberathletes, the online creation and trading of in-world or game artefacts [virtual consumerism], or simply the setting up of blog shops [examples].
So how do you teach these work and life skills?
In some cases, you do not teach conventionally at all. The gamers learn the trade (and tricks of the trade) themselves. My 8-year-old son recently started playing the online version of Minecraft. Thanks to YouTube videos by CaptainSparklez and Minecraft wikis [example], he has encyclopedic knowledge of the game.
As his parent and educator, I not only showed him how to find these resources, but also helped him decide if they were worthwhile.
For example, Sparklez is a great instructor and entertainer. His game voiceovers are engaging and he does not use crude expletives. But when he plays in multiplayer mode, his kin are less disciplined with their expressions. I told my son which Sparkles videos he could watch and which he should not and why.
I facilitate, monitor, and evaluate. I take interest and listen. I question and give feedback. I do not lecture because my son already is the content expert. That is what teachers can do too.
It was written by a parent who thinks that values education begins at home and that it must be modelled first by parents.
But there was one thing I did not agree with and it was the end of this short paragraph:
A proper education should be synonymous with values. It is the current form of rat-race schooling that most do not associate with good values.
So here is my stand. If you wish your child to be academically challenged (read that either way), send him or her to a Singapore school. If you want your child to not turn out to be a monster, nurture him or her yourself first. Schools alone are not likely to provide a proper education.
No amount of incentives or academic programmes will nurture good values if the approach is old-school, one-size-fits-all, and predicated on extrinsic motivation.
You have to be good and do good not on the threat of cane or reward of carrot, but on the fact that it is simply the right thing to do. Only then have you been educated.
Almost every Friday, I have a McDonald’s breakfast with my son before I drop him off at school. It is something my son looks forward to because it is McDonald’s and because it signals the weekend.
I, on the other hand, feel the need to “detox” after such breakfasts, so I have just fruits for lunch. But while I might lose some health points at McDonald’s, I gain some quality time with my son.
Just yesterday, my son decided to talk about his art lessons. He told me he wished they were more interesting. A few months ago, I just wished they were more regular.
Every Friday, my son has to pack a special file with basic art supplies. Earlier in the year, my wife and I would ask what he did for art only for him to say he did not have art lessons. Evidence of art work were few and far between.
The art lessons seem to be a bit more regular now, but my son does not find them engaging. He is not an artistic genius, mind you. He just wishes that some of his art lessons involved the drawing of comics.
I think my son had a reasonable comment given his interest in drawing comics. But I am not waiting for the school to include comic drawing.
I reminded my son that he had a book that taught him how to doodle things like robots and animals. He could teach himself how to draw better. He has also started reading some comics and he can learn by observing, mimicking and adapting.
My son mentioned that the author of the doodle book also had another one on drawing comics. (I must remember to ask him how he found out!) I replied that we could look for that book and buy it if he was really interested.
I’m not expecting a school to change its curriculum to suit one or a few. It cannot because it is built on an industrial model of one-size-fits-all. Even the new changes that emphasize values-education in the Singapore schooling system are not likely to individualize learning. As long as the school as we know now is a dominant model, there cannot be highly customized learning.
But we live in interesting times. My son can learn to draw comics with the help of online resources, communities and teachers. He can pursue his passion without the support of his school or even his parents. If his passion becomes a career, he can rely on the same media, people and practices to live his comic life.
I spotted this fridge magnet at the Singapore Science Centre store this weekend. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was it really trying to point out something about education as a whole?
I don’t put “education” and “bitter” together. Schooling perhaps, but not education.
BTW, I used Genius Scan on my iPhone to correct the shooting angle of the photo and flatten it.
This was an artist’s impression of what schooling was like to him. I think that most of us can relate.
I wonder how he might draw meaningful learning…