In-spi-ra-tion

I asked students what inspired them from a recent trip and as I mull the over question in my mind wonder about cultivating inspired thoughts in children. ¬†Of course an obligatory quick search was next because who can think without that any more? ūüôā That search directed me to¬†Steven Johnson’s TED video in which he says, “chance favors the connected mind”. ¬†Along with the connected mind, it’s important to note he also says it can take a long time for ideas to evolve. ¬†

In a recent conversation, I was asked¬†what I think is the “NEXT STEP” to improve education. ¬†We have an awful lot to offer in schools through the use of technology and resources. ¬†If the aforementioned t & r are not available, we can break down barriers in order to reach outside the classroom. ¬†The “next step” however doesn’t come in a package. ¬†We need to better use what we have. ¬†Students need to have some freedom to explore and be inspired. People often want to “fix” education. ¬†If you don’t already know, LEARNING IS MESSY and it should be. ¬†Lack of messiness is the reason we have students who can pass a test but still don’t really understand a concept. ¬†This is the reason mandates, NCLB, and more testing don’t necessarily improve student learning. ¬†Learning happens when we’re happy. ¬†Happiness comes from intrinsic reward. We are rewarded in different ways once we’re given confidence in our own abilities to succeed and allowed some autonomy to explore including exploration with all sorts of people from varying backgrounds (heterogeneous groups). Finally, there needs to be validation in what we accomplish. ¬†

Get inspired and start inspiring.

Consider How We Teach

This time of year used to be an exciting time not just because the school year is coming to an end.  For many years, the last few weeks of school has been the window of opportunity in the school year when teachers can enjoy hands-on activities with creative thinking strategies and problem solving because the drill and kill time for testing is complete.  It is not to say that is the right way for things to happen but it does happen.  The students and teachers finally experience the pure joy of teaching and learning with little time left in the year.

Unfortunately, I am seeing even less of the joyous moments.¬† I’m afraid two things are happening.¬† One, the students find creative thinking and problem solving so foreign after so much two dimensional learning.¬† Or two, the teachers and students are so burned out they have forgotten that there should be joy in inquiry.

Watch Randy Wilhelm’s “Ignite the Hope of Learning” TEDx clip. (also embedded below)¬† I agree with his assessment that in many cases schools have stopped making learning real for children.¬† To “know” S’mores, you have to MAKE and EAT them.¬† Even in places where there has been innovative change, there is a real struggle not to teach to the test in flat, one or two dimensional terms.¬† I ache to see that change.