About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Re-inventing the wheel

It came to me today when I was responding to an MLE post.
How did we end up in a society where we say in all seriousness,
"The wheel is good, no need to reflect, evaluate, or improve on it. It's fine! Leave it!"

Teachers have taken the phrase "We don't want to reinvent the wheel" to the extreme. There is a huge industry based around this ridiculous sentiment. There are resource rooms all over the world full of generic teaching products because, crikey, we don't want anyone to waste their time thinking!

Hopefully every teacher has made their very own resource at one time in their life. And hopefully it was shared with someone who gave it a wee tweak and used it in their class, and so it goes. I like this process, and with technology this sharing and collaborating is taking off.

What I do not like is the private industries that create resources, put a price sticker on them, copyright them and then hock them to, beginning teachers,senior management, and anyone else who will listen, with the claim - "this will save you time - you don't want to reinvent the wheel."

And the scary thing is that it is no longer just black-line masters. It is entire educational programmes that sit online behind credit card numbers (or are 'free' but stuffed full with commercial advertising). They are usually one-size-fits-all, completely out of context and written by adults who have been out of the classroom for years.

If a kid came up to me in a classroom with a twinkle in her eye, producing a round object as she said to me,
"Look what I made, it makes the box move!"
I would be super impressed - "You reinvented the wheel!"

Reinventing the wheel is important, creative stuff. The very act of making a teaching resource enables you to deliver the learning with more depth (it doesnt matter if it has been done before). I believe that it is the same with children and their learning. This is why I use video heavily in my class. Not to 'make movies' but to enable them to go through and explain and then reflect upon their learning. Sharing their learning is so easy via their blog and other children are benefiting from it.


  1. TJ, this is a great post and I think in regards to the MLE context a very fair one. It seems like there is a big push in that context to make it fit and simple. If it works for you then great, but for some people they choose a different path. Thanks for sharing. Heymilly

  2. I totally agree with you. in secondary especially, one can find teachers who take their"March folder" every year and teach how and what they did last year, and the year before....and 25 years ago. It is very important for the students and the teachers to actually change how and what they are teaching regularly

  3. In ECE I think we tend to be a bit more reflective in assessing and creating relevant resources because we follow the interests of the children we are teaching rather than saying 'Oh, Week 5 that means we are doing....'
    I agree about the creation of 'bells and whistles' teaching resources as we are constantly bombarded with 'this is the latest and the greatest and you should buy it for your children'. On investigation it tends to be, as you suggest "one-size-fits-all, completely out of context and written by adults who have been out of the classroom for years."
    How can teachers work effectively and to the strengths of the children they are teaching by using these resources? Sure they may fit some of the children but I am sure not to that of the majority.
    I am a great believer in taking someone else's ideas/work and redesigning, refining and adapting for my own purposes. We all need to reflect on what we are using with the children, making sure that it is relevant and effective.