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Posts Tagged ‘more

The first time I was formally taught to use “body language“ was probably when I was learning to be a teacher. I wish I had this expert to debunk body language, or more accurately, non-verbals).


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Even though the expert debunked misconceptions about detecting lies and social blocking, this did not discount non-verbals. He pointed out that we can have poker faces but we cannot have a poker bodies. We cannot help but communicate non-verbally.

The content of the next video was new to me. I did not know that there was a type of concrete that was infused with bacteria.


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If the concrete cracked and water seeped in, this would activate the bacteria which would synthesize material that would repair the crack.

Such a technology was possible by crossing different disciplinary silos: Microbiology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, architecture, design, etc. We cannot claim to have any sort of innovative teaching if content and skills are taught in silos.

Much of schooling is still about expecting one process and a model answer. Just like the question above.

It does not forgive alternatives even though they might be based on reality. Just like the answer to the question above.

Schooling is about making students provide the correct answers. Education is about developing learners who can generate more than one answer.

This is not about creating a false dichotomy because we need both. The problem is not recognising when we need each and how much of it is needed.

I had one concern after reading this new article, Govt can do more to reduce concentration of disadvantaged and privileged students in some schools.

My concern was not what exactly our government was doing or could do. These were summed up in four paragraphs in the article:

The ministry recently improved its financial assistance scheme, which helps students with school fees, textbooks and uniforms, by raising the income eligibility criteria to benefit more of such students.

Under the School Meals Programme, the provision of food has also been raised from seven to 10 meals a week for eligible secondary school students. About 50,000 students from lower-income families are on the scheme, Mr Ong said.

The Government is also investing heavily in pre-school education, with one-third of MOE Kindergarten spots reserved for students from lower-income families.

By 2020, student-care centres will also be in every school to provide students with a conducive environment to study and finish their homework.

My concern was why newspapers pad their articles with extraneous information. Only four out of the 23 paragraphs in the article where about the headline.

One might argue that the other paragraphs provide background information or set the context. I would agree if this was still pre-Internet news. When writing on paper, you could not hyperlink to other articles that provided more background, history, or context.

My expertise is not journalism, but I take this warning to the realms of schooling and education. Are we still still stuck in the paper world of the past or are we also preparing kids for the paperless future? Are we doing more for ourselves and our past, or are we focusing on our children and their futures?

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. -- John Dewey

Tomorrow's educational progress cannot be determined by yesterday's successful performance.

I am not a fan of selfies. This is probably only the second one I have taken with a camera phone. I had to in order to capture this quote from Robert Browning.

The quote was on a large mirror at the Zizzi restaurant in Little Venice. I was in London for a family vacation over the one-week school break.

I have lots of photos to share and have already created smaller online albums of that large one [colours] [eats] [lego minifigs] [museums].

But since less is more, I intend to create a summary album of the best bits and perhaps include a few photos I did not upload earlier.

I like that we are different. I celebrate it and design for it and I wish more would do the same.

But sometimes we are more alike than different. I have made a point of pointing this out when I hosted visitors in NIE or when I have extended conversations with people when I am overseas.

In education, we all want the best contextual solutions for our children. We all face the same types of political, administrative, policy and other problems. We all have the same passionate problem-solvers.

So why do we tend to focus on our differences? For example, when visitors come here, they want to find out what we do “differently” in Math or assessment or ICT. Perhaps our visitors think that they will find something of value or out of their box.

It makes sense that if we seem to be doing better at international tests, then what we do differently is likely to be a contributing factor. If we are doing the same thing but the results are different, then the same thing seems unlikely to be the cause.

I think there is a more insidious reason for why we look for differences instead of similarities. I realized this thanks to a seemingly unrelated tweet for help.

I was piqued by the issue and Googled for leads. I found something promising.

I tweeted a link to a library article about an event where the speaker mentioned how authors and publishers were pressured into selling books that emphasized differences instead similarities.

If you were going to read about another culture or travel to another country, you would want to find out about the different food, practices, weather, scenery, etc. You would not want to bore yourself with finding out more about the same or wasting your money to experience what you already have at home.

But the fact of the matter is that when you make that jump and spend a significant enough amount of time in a place, the more likely you are to find out how similar the problems and solutions are.

I think that only focusing on how we are different is a mistake. We are more likely to bring home a different solution without fully understanding its context. If we focus on how we are the same, we are more likely to gain an understanding of that context first. We then understand our differences better and we avoid repeating the same mistakes.

I read an article in TODAY, Teach less, learn more – have we achieved it?

I sighed.

Teach less, learn more?

I would be happy if teachers learnt how to talk less and ensure that their students learnt more.

Even better, test less learn more.

Reducing syllabi or curricula is not going to make a difference if teachers still rely only on the tools of talk in one hand and tests in the other.

It is time to arm them with something else. It is time to have fewer central policies and more ownership. It is time to provide less structure and scaffolding and more professionalism and innovation.


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