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Posts Tagged ‘ask

I remember Ask Jeeves like I remember Lycos and Hotbot. These were search engines before Google.

I remember curation before the likes of fire-and-forget services like These tweet “curations” are Ask Peeves for me because they piss me off.

Last month I tweeted an article about providing effective formative feedback.

The title of the article included the word “cartography” because the writer likened feedback to knowing 1) where you are, 2) where you need to be, and 3) how to get there.

However, individuals and bots who did not bother to actually read the article auto “curated” it into papers about geography, way finding, navigation, and the like. Even my attempt to hashtag the tweet with #feedback did little to stem the tide.

I dread to think of “experts” and trainers showing teachers how to set up such fire-and-forget services in the name of curation. It is not curation if you 1) have not read the article, 2) are not telling a coherent story, and 3) are not doing any of the heavy lifting.

If you like fire-and-forget strategies, you are taking a shortcut. You might get views and followers initially. But when they see that you lack effort and substance when you fire, they will forget.

Last week a writer took great pleasure in highlighting how a 6-year-old totally owned the Financial Times over a ‘Minecraft’ error [original article] [copy of child’s letter].

I have played Minecraft with my son and even made a few videos on what we might learn by immersive play. I was sure that the 6-year-old was not entirely right.

You cannot be right all the time and that is a valuable lesson in life. So how does one burst the bubble of a child without also bursting their self-esteem?

You ask another child to correct him.

I asked my 11-year-old for his thoughts as a Minecraft veteran. He gave a blow-by-blow account of how the FT could have got their Minecraft scene right. Much of what was possible could be due to texture packs and building in creative mode.

However, the biggest problem with the Minecraft scene as depicted by FT was that is was most likely a Photoshopped collage of separate Minecraft and other elements.

A writer opted to use an “out of the mouth of babes” moment to highlight the folly of another writer. That was premature.

This is a reminder for both adults and kids: It is better to ask than to assume that someone is right. Furthermore, an adult is not necessarily the best source of information; what a child knows deeply might surprise you.

Last week I read this tweeted question in #asiaED.

I have a simple response for why we use chopsticks. The food is too hot to handle directly with one’s fingers.

This might come across as a mean response. It is not meant to be. It is an honest response and one of many that you might get if you asked that question.

Another interpretation of the question revolves around the invention and adoption of chopsticks in east Asia as a tool for eating. Who thought of it first? What were its origins? Why did other people think this was a good idea? Why make it so difficult to eat? Those are interesting questions and I bet there are interesting answers.

I am not here to answer those questions. I am here to suggest a way to teach teachers and students how to ask questions and seek answers.

Teachers need to get students to refine their questions. A question generated one way can be interpreted another. Where there is no luxury for clarification (like in Twitter), the question must be better phrased. The lesson here is one of better problem definition.

Teachers also need to learn how to teach their students when to search for answers themselves and when to ask someone else. Given a classroom that has peers and connections outside it, it is easy to ask first. There is nothing wrong with that.

However, this question might have been better answered by searching online and in a library first for answers. This would promote learning that is more independent, deeper, and more reflective. With some preliminary answers, better questions can emerge.

It is one thing to talk about higher order thinking skills (HOTs). It is another to design and conduct learning opportunities that promote HOTs. Promoting HOTs is not always intuitive. It takes a humble and reflective teacher to learn to be a learner first. Depending on mindset, doing this might be as easy or as difficult to learn as using chopsticks.

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