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Posts Tagged ‘compass

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Reflection is a form of metacognition — it is thinking about thinking. Superficially, reflection is slowing down and taking stock of what happened.

Being inherently reflective might be a character trait. Being effectively reflective is a skill. I would like to offer a framework that suggests factors that develop effective reflection.

A little over 15 years ago, I conducted research and wrote a doctoral dissertation on reflective blogging by preservice teachers [link to dissertation maintained by IU]. References and research on reflection were hard to come by then. I doubt they are more common today.

I offer a reflective framework borne of my own reflection. I call it the Reflective Compass. 

The west and east points of this framework are critical and creative thinking. You need both to keep cognition in balance. Creative thinking sans critical thinking is like building castles in the air without ever planting your feet on the ground. Relying only on critical thinking — and confusing that with cynical thinking — cuts down everything before anything can grow.

The south point is evaluative retrospection. It is important to look back and process what happened in the past. Why? I offer this image quote.

We do not learn from experiences. We learn from reflecting on experiences. -- John Dewey

Looking back is not enough. You need to analyse and evaluate an experience: What was it worth? Why? Whether you succeeded or failed, what did you learn from it? If you got nothing from it, again, why?

If introspection is not accompanied by creative solution-seeking and critical analysis of such solutions, the process devolves into stagnant nostalgia. Reflection should provide direction for moving forward. This is the north point — forward-thinking — which entails planning, anticipating, and strategising.

Like any other framework, my Reflection Compass is only a model. Models try represent complexity but do not capture every facet of it. My model is not tested, critiqued, or researched. But I fling it into the ether just in case it helps someone looking for some some ideas on reflection.

 
Recently I read a news article [original behind paywall] [free archive] on a broad change to our schooling system that might take place to counter outdated practices.

Rather than hand out a map with a well-marked path, there is a need to give every child a “compass and navigation skills”, said Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat.

Minister Heng added that the compass would also provide “a sense of purpose, a moral sense of right and wrong, perseverance, and care for other people”.

This has been a consistent message of our Minister for Education since he took over this portfolio in 2011. But I wonder if a compass and navigation skills are enough or even relevant in a world with GPS.

Knowing where you wish to go is one thing. Knowing what to do, how to do it, and why you do it at all during the journey is just as important.

The schooling equivalent of a compass and navigational skills might include a sense of purpose, the will, and the thinking and social skills of the learner.

Neither a compass nor navigational skills are enough. You need guides. Minister Heng referred to these guides as role models. The primary role models in school are teachers.

These teachers also experience a compass ceremony early in their careers and they are given physical devices to help them remember the symbolism of the event.

But I would rather each teacher and child be allowed to leverage on their own smart mobile devices and not just a compass.

Putting symbolism aside, these devices come with a compass and much more. There are tools to create, share, and discuss. These tools help them learn not only about content but also how to think.

Learning how to think for yourself and collaborating with others are more important than following a compass blindly. A compass will not show you how to avoid or overcome a barrier. Furthermore, compass is easily manipulated with a magnet. These magnets take the form of national agenda, curricula, religion, single-mode testing, etc.

I know what the future needs: Smart people with smart devices that connect with other smart people and are guided by even smarter people who are adept at navigating and learning this way.

I use current technology to find my way in more ways than one.

travel_apps
This is what the Travel folder on my iPhone looks like. It does not include the bus schedule and check-in apps on the main screen. I use these apps to get timely information about where I was, where I am, or where I need to be.

I do something similar in life too. We all can or do.

I blog to look back, and as I reflect, it helps me look forward. My Twitter stream and RSS feeds provide constant information on what is and what might be. Collectively, they help me know where to go when it comes to change with edtech.

If you ask a commodities trader or a medical specialist what the latest information in their fields is, they might know off-hand or they will know where to look. They will probably combine their experience with timely tool-based information.

They and I will be able to tell you what we are certain of and what we are unsure of. After finding a balance between the two, we might tell you where we need to go or what we need to do.

 
I am willing to bet that I get approached by strangers asking me for directions more often than most people.

Maybe I look like I know where I am going. But does that mean I can tell you where you want to go?

Perhaps they see me using apps to find my way or to check the bus schedule, so they think that I can help.

I do not mind helping out if I know or if I can find out. The ignorance of a stranger is easy to overcome with timely information.

The worst type of stranger is ignorant and stubborn. This type of person is lost, but fixated on his/her opinion or an isolated piece of information. Alternatives and advice do not matter.

I have met my (un)fair share of the ignorant and stubborn. Not just about finding directions on the street but also in the realm of change with edtech.

I am back from our study trip in the US. Other than learning a thing or two, I picked also picked up something for myself.

I had read about the the Compass iPad stand in Gizmodo, and when I saw i at an Apple Store, I bought it immediately. It fit my needs exactly. But since it was almost as new as the iPad, not everyone knew about it. This included the security people at airports.

When clearing security at San Francisco, the screener recognized the item and clarified, “That’s a stand for the iPad, right?” At Incheon, South Korea, both my hand luggage and I were searched before I did a demo on how it worked.

This reminded me of a conversation we had as we travelled from one campus to another. It is one thing to sell change by appealing to the meaningfulness of the change; it is another to sell it by whether it makes sense now.

In theory, I think it is logical to appeal to educators’ duty and passion for their charges by telling them that the changes we are trying to introduce are for the good of our learners. But they may not see the link between what they see now (the changes) and what is in the future (the benefits).

The changes have to make sense now too (I am not sure how yet). Just like the x-ray outline of my iPad stand made sense to one screener and not to another, changes can be seen as a benefit or threat. Maybe it’s both, but in a good way. It is a threat to inertia and that is a benefit in itself.


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