CHAPTER 7 Quote: "...current efforts are geared toward trying to fix the system by refining and perfecting it. A leaky bucket, however, will not begin to hold water if all we do is change the size and shape of the hole."
Thomas, Douglas; Seely Brown, John (2011-03-12). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Kindle Locations 1236-1238). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition.
I've chosen this quote because I think it really captures the issue of education reform. We have a leaking bucket and are constantly trying to tweak things like how we deliver content rather than thinking deeply about the culture of learning and the system as a whole.
Question: To what extent are the most challenging issues we face in education related to the restrictions that we have to operate within (or believe we have to operate within), given the nature of our education system?
Connection: My current student teaching placement is at a continuation high school. Given the nature of the context of this school, many unorthodox practices have been implemented. For example, the school lets out at 12:45pm Monday through Thursday and earlier on Friday. Another continuation school in the area holds classes in the evenings. In addition, strict content standards take a back seat to teaching more practical life skills. The school has made a huge effort to be aware of the students it has, and adapt to fit their specific needs. If it didn't, it would have no hope of effecting any real and lasting change in the lives of it's students. Yesterday I sat in on a voluntary class that starts after school. As far as I could tell, many students are trying to get into the class, but they have to be selected. The focus of the class is to try and get students to think deeply about who they are. With the risk of sounding cliche, I learned way more from the students than I was able to contribute.
Epiphany: Leaving that class, I came to a realization. For awhile now, one book in particular has made a lasting impact on how I see the world around. Ernesto Sirolli, in his book, "Lessons from the Zambezi" suggests that if you want to know what someone needs you have to learn to ask them. It seems obvious, but I don't see it practiced all that much in education so far. I see a lot of "educators" making closed door decisions about what students need in order to learn. I'd like to have more room for my students to tell me what they need in order to explore the topics we're learning about.
CHAPTER 8 Quote: "The richness of experience and social agency produced by hanging out and the sense of embodiment and personal agency created by messing around, combined with the sense of making, produces what we think is the ultimate goal of indwelling: learning. Geeking out provides an experiential, embodied sense of learning within a rich social context of peer interaction, feedback, and knowledge construction enabled by a technological infrastructure that promotes “intense, autonomous, interest driven” learning."
Thomas, Douglas; Seely Brown, John (2011-03-12). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Kindle Locations 1478-1481). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition.
I chose this quote because it brings together the three principles behind the New Culture of Learning. It demonstrates how, with the aid of technology, and an open minded approach to adaptation, learning can can take place in an self directed, curiosity driven classroom.
Question: What about the students that simply have no interest in school, period? This chapter seems to take for granted that students have an internal desire to participate in this process. Messing around is only productive if you're messing around on what you're supposed to be messing around on.
Connection: This would work really well for my students if I could create buy in. I'm still working on figuring that piece out.
Epiphany: The goal is self directed, curiosity driven learning. The means is by creating a sense of belonging, giving lots of time for self directed discovery, and being patient.
CHAPTER 9 Quote: "When we think about what a new educational environment might look like in the twenty-first century, we can imagine a number of things. Imagine an environment that is constantly changing. Imagine an environment where the participants are building, creating, and participating in a massive network of dozens of databases, hundreds of wikis and websites, and thousands of message forums, literally creating a large-scale knowledge economy. Imagine an environment where participants are constantly measuring and evaluating their own performances, even if that requires them to build new tools to do it. Imagine an environment where user interface dashboards are individually and personally constructed by users to help them make sense of the world and their own performance in it. Imagine an environment where evaluation is based on after-action reviews not to determine rewards but to continually enhance performance. Imagine an environment where learning happens on a continuous basis because the participants are internally motivated to find, share, and filter new information on a near-constant basis. Finding an environment like that sounds difficult, but it isn’t.
Thomas, Douglas; Seely Brown, John (2011-03-12). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Kindle Locations 1492-1497). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition.
Question: "Finding an environment like that sounds difficult, but it isn’t."Ummm...have you seen my classroom.
Connection: I don't want to be a pessimist, but can we just say that it IS difficult, but we're going to do it anyway. As I read this opening, every time I was asked to imagine these different scenarios, I couldn't help but imagine them taking place in a fairly well off classroom with students who were the type that are probably all taking SAT prep courses. When I think of an environment that is constantly changing, I get anxiety because I think of my students who are already falling so far behind. When I think of an environment where students are exposed to dozens of databases, hundreds of wiki's, and thousands of message forums, I worry because most of my students have enough trouble interpreting information they read, let alone distinguishing between useful and useless information in the limited capacity that I already expose them to.
Question again: Where do the poor kids fit in to this "new culture"?