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Posts Tagged ‘mindset

While the tweet above might be tongue-in-cheek, it sends more than one signal.

The intended message might be that playing cooperative games by mashing a single desktop keyboard was more fun than having your own mobile device.

The messages the tweet misses are that the players with their own mobile devices are a) also cooperating, b) can potentially cooperate in larger numbers, and c) can do so anywhere there is a reliable Internet connection.

Nostalgia does not just colour our memories, it can sometimes blind action. If anyone looks back so fondly in the past and remains rooted there, I would not rely on them to work on problems today or build towards the future.

For me, this is a reminder that it is not enough to evaluate people based on their knowledge or skills. It is just as important to gauge their mindsets.

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The central figure in the video above, Maxx, has dyslexia. According to the interview and video description he was “five weeks away from his final examinations when he experienced memory loss”.

He did not do well in the high-stakes exams and made his way into what many here would consider the lower rung of education. But you would be fooled into believing that given how articulate and confident is was.

I am confident he learnt not from schooling, but despite it. Schooling and the social pressures here typically emphasise academic excellence. Little, if anything, is said about character and mindsets. Why? Exams do not measure such things.

It should not take a learner who has dyslexia and memory loss to tell us that non-academic  processes and outcomes like perseverance are more important all the time.

Maxx also highlighted how his dyslexia did not hold him back. He considered that to be an essential part of him. He reminded me that we need to focus on enabling behaviours instead of disabling with labels.

That reminder is timely given how I will soon be facilitating modules on ICT for SPED. The next two videos give be pause for thought.

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The Lost Voice Guy has cerebral palsy which left him unable to speak. So he uses a speech synthesiser to talk. 

In his closing joke for the Britain’s Got Talent judges, he questioned the use of the “special” label, i.e., special needs, special school. I had a good laugh and it got me thinking about how use ridiculous labels.

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Francesca Martinez also has cerebral palsy and described herself as “wobbly” in this TEDx talk. In the comedy routine above, she said: “Who wants a normal life? I want an amazing life!”

The shift in SPED to focus on abilities instead of disabilities has started, but like most things in schooling and education, is moving at a glacial pace. We might learn from Maxx, the Lost Voice Guy, and Francesca how to break expectations. 

I do not expect to change everyone’s mind when I facilitate my modules. But I do expect to push and pull a few educators forward in the right direction. 

I enjoyed the video embedded in this tweet about how academics write.

But I had a different application of the video. Mine about how it applies to folks who arrange for professional development for their staff.

I have observed that such events are often standalone, i.e., they do not serve a longer term purpose or are not linked to an overall theme. Some organisers are just happy to check off an item from a to-do list.

Seminar on new policy, check. Workshop on new skill, check. But do these sessions result in learning and changed behaviours? If not, the interventions are like the person pulling the sheep out of the rut. But the sheep has not learnt anything and jumps back into the rut.

There is nothing inherently wrong with arranging on-going development for your workers. It is the responsible thing to do. But it is irresponsible to not also address mindsets that affect behaviours. 


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This was the second time I have heard about a study that seems to support the use of single-use plastic bags. The first was this news article on similar research.

I say “seems” because, as host Hank Green pointed out, the answers are complicated. If we take a more holistic or systemic view of what different types of bags take away as resources and contribute as pollutants, single-use bags might actually play a better numbers game.

Green pointed out that one consideration that was missing from the study was the impact of these bags as pollutants to nature. One need only recall marine animals ingesting plastic bags and the bags breaking down as micro plastics which then make their way up the food chain. This factor is difficult to quantify.

I say there is another missing and even more difficult factor to measure. It is how the continued use of single-use plastic bags perpetuates the use-and-throw mentality. Users do know or care where the bags come from or where they end up. If we do not reduce our dependence on single-use plastic bags, we do not nurture a change in mindset because nothing seems wrong about it.

As usual, I see a parallel about mindsets in teacher and faculty professional development. Administrators and trainers alike still focus on content and skills of workshops or courses. They should. But they also need to address mindset change. No amount of new policies, expectations, or content is going to change behaviours if people do not first believe these are necessary.

Like trying to measure the impact of mindset on single-use plastic bags, addressing the mindsets of educators is difficult. But relegating or ignoring is not going to make the problem of harmful behaviours go away.

One of the post-lockdown rules we have in Singapore is that groups of people should be no larger than five [1] [2].

So why did I spot a group of eight at an eatery over the weekend? My guess is that one group of four scored one table and the other group of four got another table right beside the first table.

People look for loopholes and take advantage of them. They know what the rules are, but they do not care why the rules exist. The rule-of-five is meant to reduce the number of people interacting physically while providing a sense of normalcy.
 

 
If you are taught to listen and comply, you hear the number. If you are not taught to think and care, you do know know why that number exists nor do you behave responsibly.

My reflection is not so much about how wilfully ignorant we can sometimes be. It is about how we condition that mindset by the way we teach.

If we rely on the pedagogy of answers, we tend to provide the facts and figures. But if we learn to use the pedagogy of questions, we model for our learners and we teach them to ask important questions. The most important of which is why.

I tried to schedule a tweet yesterday with Buffer but could not.

TweetDeck would not load and going directly to Twitter did not help either. So I searched for sites that monitored up-time.

One said everything was fine.

Another reported local access issues.

Obviously the latter was more accurate because it matched what I was experiencing.

Interestingly the same could be said about cultural bubbles or individual mindsets. When something changes, we might look for information that reaffirms what we already believe or think we know. This is confirmation bias.

Broader and more critical thinking requires the examination of more and contradictory sources, and evaluating their worth. This might be called skeptical bias.

Thankfully the Twitter outage did not last long. But it provided me a timely reminder to check and double check.

If you visit this John Hopkins University visualisation of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases, you might discover how Singapore seems to be disproportionately affected.

Instead of focusing on the misinformation, disinformation, or panic buying of groceries, my mind turns to how this affects teaching and learning.

Most schools and education institutions reacting to the spread of the novel corona virus here share the same state — an unpreparedness to embrace online and e-learning. This is despite having a wealth of online resources that serve as a proxy for content delivery.

I anticipate that if teacher, administrator, and policymaker mindsets do not change, we will not be prepared for the next virus (or equivalent). Online platforms and content do not matter if they are used peripherally or only in emergencies.

We might take a leaf out of the YouTube book (irony intended) to learn how to be better prepared.

YouTube is an everyday phenomenon. Students need not be told to refer to it or search it. They do so on their own. They need it and want it. If that online resource was cut off, they would revolt.

Compare this with curated, designed, and aligned resources in content management systems. They are prescribed like medicine — used only when someone else thinks it is necessary as well as sparingly or strategically.

The current mindset of schooling still relies on an expert and teaching model. We need this because schools have a role to play in enculturating our children, i.e., transmitting information, values, and skills. But it is largely answer-driven.

The forward-looking mindset shifts towards learning. This means starting with complexity, not textbook answers and oversimplifications. The means recognising that learners, no matter how young, can and should continue learning by first asking questions and then learning how to find answers.

I dare say that if we manage to rely on a learner and learning-driven model, we will collectively create that paradigm shift that experts like to talk about. We will learn on demand, not just teach on supply. We will learn virally.

 
Larry Cuban shared a collection of comics that provided commentary on kids and technology.

There is some truth in the funny frames, but they mostly rehashed unnuanced tropes. This is probably because everyone, their grandmother, and the occasional comic artist has an opinion about kids and technology.

Such opinion is rarely expert or informed. I cannot blame them if they are not students of edtech because this is a broad, complex, and ever-changing field. But I can point a critical finger at folks who do not bother to ask the kids or keep learning like kids.

A layperson’s view of edtech is not just inadequate, it is irresponsible particularly if that person is a teacher who internalises popular culture. This is why I promote professional development that addresses mindsets first. If we do not change attitudes and beliefs, we will not change behaviours.

Yesterday I offered graduate students some writing tips for response essays. That set of tips addressed the issue of ill-structured writing.

The other main problem I mentioned was writer mindsets, which is harder to address. My students tend to write for themselves, i.e., they do not consider the reader and/or they write with strategies that they prefer and regardless of need.
 

 
The structuring strategies I suggest might help their writing, but only if they realise that the reader is not in the same head space as they are.

One way to learn how others perceive your work is to get them to read it and provide feedback.

Better still, reciprocate the reading and feedback to learn how someone else writes. Doing this might teach you better strategies or give you the opportunity to teach someone else.

I often bring this writing mindset issue up in class to highlight how writing for the reader is like student-centred instruction. The focus is not you; it is them — the reader or the student. Since my leaners have to do both, doing one might help the other.

It has often been said that technology is just a tool. It is not.

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. -- Marshall McLuhan

I do not have argument with “tool”; I take issue with “just”. Tools are not always neutral because they are designed with intent and function. These are part of the affordances of any technology.

What the layperson might not understand is that while some affordances are designed for and expected, others are negotiated or emergent.


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So when Google released its video on Searches in 2018, it chose to focus on the good and not the bad. This does not mean that it and its users did not do any evil.

We live in an era when we seem to have the unprecedented ability to generate and spread both misinformation and disinformation. Our technologies may have enhanced and enabled these, but we are responsible.

A gun may be designed to fire a projectile, but it is a person who choses a target, takes aim, and fires. Or not.

Likewise, Google Search extends our reach for information far beyond our fingertips and borders. But we can choose to reinforce our walls or burst our bubbles. Which we choose to do also depends on Google’s algorithms.

Google Search is a tool, but not just. The demean the description with “just” is to assumes that our searches are pure queries. They are not. We should not ignore that searches can be biased by algorithms and our mindsets.


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