Clocks, pens and paper – school technology

Ira Socol wrote about the technologies of schools in a way that I had never considered before. Never thought of them as technologies…

1. The first technology is the division of time: educational time from other time
2. The second technology is the division of content: subject lessons
3. The third technology is the environment: home base or learning cell

I have been asked at times to survive for a week without my gadgets or have a holiday from technology. My son is also talking about spending time during the holidays having a break from Facebook.

Many schools/teachers are also posing to students to make time to fast from technology such as computers, TV or mobile phones.

How real is this when some of these are our communication devices?

ICT is an essential part of our lives.

Ira also talks about how there was a time in history when pencils, pens, paper and books were new technology.

How often do we hear people suggest that we should take time off from using them?

In the same vein have we ever had teachers or schools suggest that today we will not use clocks or paper. This week we will have no bells or change subjects. This week you can learn wherever you like….

Could schools/teachers survive without such technologies like they ask students to refrain from?

“It’s Kind of Fun to do the Impossible” – Walt Disney



What school needs to be

Brian Kuhn commented on one of my recent posts ‘What’s so wrong with schooling’ where I listed  7 Tacit Lessons that Schools teach children. He counter – phrased those lessons in a way that schools could better facilitate learning.

Well said Brian.
1. Knowledge is free
2. Learning can take place anywhere and at anytime
3. Knowledge is best learned in projects or solving problems
4. To learn you need relevance, purpose, guidance, coaching, encouragement, and support
5. To learn you need a project, problem, or idea
6. You need peers and experts to assess your progress
7. Progress should be shown through evidence, portfolios, auditions, productions, products

Here are my own:

1. Knowledge is abundant and accessible
2. Learning can take place when the need and opportunity arises
3.  Learning happens when it is self initiated and relevant
4. To learn you sometimes need a facilitator or mentor
5. To learn you need a reason and an interest
6. You need peers, ones who know you and experts to assess your learning
7.  Exhibitions of making and doing and portfolios can demonstrate learning

Making – using hands and the mind

This video shows Tye making his ‘Fat Pants’ which he needs to ‘Shuffle’ which is his favourite dance style. Notice the valuable learning that is taking place here. What you haven’t seen is the researching, planning, designing, shopping etc etc.

Here learnt to shuffle by watching YouTube videos and then practising every chance he could. His mentor here is Judy who provided her sewing machine and helped him to design and sew the pants.

To witness Tye’s engagement/learning and how proud he was of the end result was a joy to behold.

Here is a great article on the value of ‘making’.

This excerpt from “Making their Way: Creating a new generation of Thinkerers” – Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski.

Makers of all ages understand early on in their making how hard it is to do something well. They understand that excellence is a moving target. They will spend hours learning things that they want to learn, be that from books, the Internet, by asking other people sharing the same interest, or just by trial and error. And through these means, makers continue to perfect their skills. Unfortunately, our schools ignore this understanding and choose breadth over depth, efficiency over exploration, and acceleration over patience and persistence. Thackera (2005) reminds us that nature does not work on the principle that fast is better; slowness is fundamental to quality.

So, what does this mean for schools? We think, a lot.

Making is a celebration of an alternative and powerful way of knowing and of thinking things through. Consequently, making is typically antithetical to what traditional schools are all about. That is why the communities of practice that come together at Maker Faires and fab labs usually— some would say thankfully—flourish outside of schools.

A few educators, however, are circling these making places to determine where and how they may fit into schools, if at all. The late educational historian Lawrence Cremin once wryly noted that educators respond to a new area of learning by creating a course in it. Recall how schools responded to technology by creating a course “down the hall at fifth period” without ever thinking about changing every course because technology existed. Similarly, educators run the risk ofdemeaning hand and mind work by creating separate courses for making rather than bringing making into all aspects of the school curriculum and thereby thoroughly reconstituting it.

In making, the gap between the learner’s performance and aspirations is so much more concrete and tangible, very unlike the gap between a letter grade of A or B. The tacit and the explicit come together. The skills involve the body as well as the mind, the hand as well as the heart. The 4-H Club has it right: head, hand, heart, and health together (4-H, 2009).

The making and the maker are linked in ways that traditional learning opportunities and environments cannot provide. The maker/learner and the object are joined. This is very much unlike what happens in schools when students, consciously or unconsciously, decide that what the school is teaching them has nothing to do with them and, indeed, is not them.

Making and hand-mind learning should not be confused with ! traditional career and technical education. Many students are not interested in earning certificates or credentials in a technical area. Instead, we are advocating for in-mind learning throughout all students’ programs of study.

We can only speculate about where all of this might lead. Certainly, however, there will be increased opportunities for students to develop very valuable skills outside of school, to have those skills validated through certificates, credentials, and endorsements that are respected in the workplace and in selected postsecondary learning institutions. It is possible that educators will see these non-school settings as places in which they can bring the most valuable aspects of the traditional disciplines, particularly the discipline-based skills and conceptual understandings.

See also Maker Faires which are a celebration of working with your hands and minds.

Remember, VCAL is a worthy learning pathway

It’s this time of year that the Media celebrates near perfect results of students who have completed their VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education). Congratulations to all of these students and it would be just reward for all the hard work they have put in.

It’s a shame though that such recognition is not given to the students who have worked just as hard (though maybe not quite so academically) in completing their VCAL.

VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) is a pathway for students who prefer a more hands on approach and enables them to complete years 11/12 and gain a certificate.

It was good to see The Age give some recognition to VCAL students.

Helping others puts students on the path to success

Jewel Topsfield and Sarah-Jane Collins

December 14, 2010 – 9:52AM

ONE of Jaclyn Greaves’s favourite experiences in year 12 was what she calls the ”pig lady from Vietnam”. As part of the subject work-related skills, her class raised funds for Kiva, an organisation that distributes loans to help entrepreneurs in developing countries set up their own businesses.

Thanks to the efforts of Jaclyn, Kurt Cabanilla and their classmates at Glenroy Specialist School, the ”pig lady” was able to buy pigs for a farm, while the class tracked her progress on the internet. What is even more remarkable about Jaclyn and Kurt – who were among 9876 students who received their Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning yesterday – is they have physical and intellectual disabilities.

”What I think is terrific is that these kids, who have got plenty to worry about in their own lives, are looking to help others,” said Glenroy Specialist School principal Raelene Kenny.

Jaclyn Greaves and Kurt Cabanila at Glenroy Specialist School, where they passed their VCAL. One of the subjects included helping a woman in Vietnam buy pigs for a farm. Photo: Jason South

”The biggest achievement is them understanding they can participate at a mainstream level and do well. We’ve set ourselves the challenge of letting the world understand that children who finish at our school should be included in mainstream tertiary education.”

Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School was also celebrating yesterday, as four of its VCE students were among the 32 who received the magical Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank of 99.95, the highest possible.

Madeleine Barrow was so stunned at the perfect result that she posted this status update on Facebook: ”Did I somehow manage to fall asleep and am I dreaming or is this real?”

After her results failed to arrive via an SMS text at 7am, Madeleine was too nervous to log on to the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre website for another hour, not wanting ”to be confronted with reality”. Turns out reality was pretty sweet. ”I was very, very surprised. My parents checked to make sure I hadn’t mis-seen it because that was something that was probable at the time,” said Madeleine, who will probably study science.

Mac.Robertson Girls’ High is a selective-entry government school, with more than 1200 students sitting exams in June to compete for 225 year 9 places. It also has small intakes in years 10, 11 and 12.

”It’s entirely different from other schools. We were expected to complete a term’s worth of homework in one week at Mac.Rob, it was that intense, but it’s worth it,” said Christina Fa, who also received 99.95.

Other schools to excel were Scotch College, Mount Scopus Memorial College and Melbourne Grammar School, which each had three students who obtained the maximum score.

Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre director Elaine Wenn said girls continued to outperform boys overall, making up 55.25 per cent of students who received a score of more than 90. ”However, boys continue to outnumber girls at the highest level of 99.95, with 18 boys and 14 girls receiving the top rank,” Ms Wenn said.

Twenty VCE students won scholarships at the University of Melbourne that cover HECS fees and $5000 per undergraduate year. Monash University also offered scholarships. The Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank is awarded across all states except Queensland.

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