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Posts Tagged ‘about

An issue that some Singaporeans keep revisiting is whether schools should start later so that children get enough sleep.
 

 
Just over a week ago, I reflected on how adults maintain the status quo (early starts) by focusing on what is NOT best for kids.

Yesterday, another adult wrote to a local rag to add more kerosene to the flame.

The writer’s rationale is that waking very early is good for kids because it instills discipline.

He is missing the point. The issue is not about discipline because there are many other ways to develop it — chores, exercise, self and time management strategies, for example.

The issue is that kids need to get enough sleep. Now this could mean that kids need to sleep early enough the night before and wake up late enough the day of school.

The current realities are that some kids here get so much homework and/or are subject to so much “enrichment” that they do not sleep early enough. If they live far away from school or take arranged transport, they cannot sleep in to compensate.

Insisting that discipline is a result of kids waking up early when their bodies are not sufficiently rested is 1) deflecting the issue, and 2) pretends to be about kids. Instead of using this flimsy excuse, proponents of this should read the research and impact of insufficient sleep and look into other ways of developing discipline.

I had a few reactions to this tweet.

I see what it is getting at, but left critically unchecked, it can do more harm than good.

I disagree with the tweeted thought both at face value and after digging deeper. Learning technology is:

  • learning about technology
  • learning from the technology
  • learning with the technology
  • not just about the pedagogy

Compared with the other items on my list, learning about technology is the lowest order skillset teachers need. But it could also be the most important mindset barrier to breach because without it the rest are not likely to happen.

Learning from the technology is what teachers new to technology might expect. The technology use is relatively superficial and either augments or replaces what the teacher can already deliver. Vendors love delivering on delivering and teachers might appreciate being partly relieved of a burden. But this is still a low-hanging fruit because it does not shift the focus from teaching content to learning how to find and process it.

Learning with the technology is where change starts to happen. It is:

  • uncertain but authentic
  • less teacher or school-controlled but more student or  co-managed
  • not just about content but also about context

Such technologies include social media, augmented reality, and mobile games. They are not created by education companies but are co-opted by teachers and students to reach and teach, and to learn not only just-in-case, but also just-in-time.

Learning with technology necessitates a paradigm shift in mindsets. Technology is not just used, it is integrated. It becomes so essential as to become transparent because it just-works and it is practically impossible to learn when it is not present. Such technology is viewed less as a tool to be used sporadically and more like an instrument to be embraced constantly.

Learning with technology is not just about pedagogy, although that is important. The pedagogies, like problem, case, team, or game-based learning are mediated by technology. But pedagogy is not the only driver: There is the nature of content and the context of its use.

There is another reason why pedagogy cannot be the sole driver. Pedagogy tend to face backwards and changes very slowly; technology faces forward and changes very quickly. One of the slowest and least effective pedagogies is didactic teaching. A didactic-focused pedagogy can make technology improve or optimise what a teacher does, but it does not necessarily focus on learning nor guarantees it.


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