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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Elephant? What Elephant?

I enjoyed reading this today.  It was also a day where I was contemplating the work of Salvador Dali.  The two blended nicely...
Swans reflecting elephants - Salvador Dali
Use Rationale
Marion Brady:
"Meanwhile, the kids will continue to choke on unorganized and disorganized information. They’ll study Standards for the Study of Tusks, Standards for the Study of Trunks, Standards for the Study of Ears, Standards for the Study of Legs, Standards for the Study of Flanks, Standards for the Study of Tails.
Elephant? What Elephant?" 

The one in the classroom perhaps?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mitra's next step...

From a lecture in Bombay (May 2012) Mitra outlines his research on Remoteness, The Hole in the Wall Experiments, and the Granny Cloud. He shows how the children in his experiments were able to Self Organize their learning and reemphasizes the importance of connections and working together in groups. When Mitra talks of children learning on their own, he means in the absence of adults (not in isolation). It is crucial that children work in groups and these are often refereed to as Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLES).

As stated in a previous post Mitra discusses that his research has shown that the future of education requires the following skills:
Reading and Comprehension,
Search and Synthesis,
A system of belief.

He goes on to outline his new research:
If children can self-organise their learning, can they then self-learn these fundamental skills?

In other words:
Can children in remote areas teach themselves to read in SOLEs?

This is the new and exciting next step in his research where he will be investigating this very thing. Can we open up a whole new world of opportunity for our remote learners? We can only wait and see.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Clear and Honest Reporting - Tart Up that data!

So the data isn't pretty enough to show parents yet? Does that mean clear and honest reporting has to be 'tarted up' first? Interesting. I wonder if it made his positivist brain explode?

I imagine John Key's feelings are akin to the ones you get when you are an actual educationalist, you know, the ones that actually teach children. You come up with this great idea, you invest a lot of time into it. And often, especially when you are a beginner, you will even fund the idea with your hard earned money.

The day comes, you pat yourself on the back as the most amazing educational breakthrough is about to be unleashed! Guess what? - it's not what you think it was going to be. Sometimes you even find out that your great idea has been tried (and failed) before. It's all a bit disappointing, it's all a bit ropey.

Why? Because there is no single solution to teaching and learning. Children are all different. They are not tidy inputs. They bring with them a variety of different experiences and ideas, and they certainly do not output tidy data packages.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again (and again). The problem lies in our assessment methods:
  • We are using 19th century tools to assess 21st century learning
  • We are encouraging children to think outside the square, then demanding they complete multiple choice tests
  • We tell our learners that they learn best when they collaborate, then insist that they take a test in silence and in isolation
  • We open our learner's eyes to a range of 21st century tools then measure their knowledge allowing them to use only pencil and paper
  • We cheer at conferences about unleashing creativity then measure 'achievement' by looking only at Numeracy and Literacy
  • We encourage children to re-craft their writing and then we measure their writing ability (using a one-off , e.g. AsTTle, test where they are required to write for 45 mins, in silence with no resources)
  • We tell ourselves that we have standardised assessment systems (yet a 'Stage 6' in maths means one thing at one school and something else at the next)
  • We have different teachers with different beliefs, who move readers through the levels for different reasons (decoding, comprehension, consolidation)
  • And as for moderation meetings - you could write a TV series on them alone.
So the data, ropey as it might be, is bogus anyway. Even if we did get to a point where the data was all presented in the same pretty format, and the children all took the same test, it will actually tell us NOTHING. And while we are on this 'one test' chances are that it will be Eurocentric (which, by the way, is not addressed by simply switching the subject's names from John to Hone). Questions will require only one narrow answer and the 'results' will be spat out by some efficient machine.

But ... the data will be tidy, and the league tables will be easily generated by the push of a button. If that's what he wants, chances are, that's what he will get.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Playing with thoughts

Alan Musgrave is an amazing (philosophy) teacher. He taught me to be intrigued by math by regaling us with 'gossip' about Pythagorus. He had a golden glint in his eye as he genuinely wondered about a straight line (even though he would have delivered that same lecture over 100 times before). He could capture a lecture theatre of well over a hundred people and get them to play "What If..." without anyone shouting others down - no matter how absurd our ideas were. And although the room was filled with a most diverse bunch, he had the ability to challenge our assumptions where we 'let it all go', and played with our thoughts. We would often leave the theatre giggling with delight as our brains popped and buzzed with new possibilities. He was a mind alterer, a mind expander, and a superb story teller.

He showed us that playing with ideas was delightful and for the first time I felt okay with the fact that I had 'wasted' my intermediate years by dreaming things up. My self directed (corridor) maths curriculum involved an obsession where I tried to find a triangle whose angles did not equal 180°. At other times, I had an overwhelming urge to find (or imagine) a new colour (not a shade of an existing colour) a new colour - (I blame the yellow highlighter for opening up this possibility). And I also had an 'unhealthy' obsession with money (not the value of it, but the pictures on it). The $10 note, for example, had pictures of the Mt Cook lily (which is very closely related to the edelweiss). I found these (pre-google) connections fascinating and told everyone I knew - complete with a rendition of the song from The Sound of Music whenever I saw someone with a $10 note - some liked it, others seemed more concerned with buying their dagwoods from the school canteen.

I think we should encourage the playing with our thoughts more - it's so much more exciting than just putting other peoples ones in.