Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blog Assignment 2

Beakman's World Cast Photo

Did You Know?
Although I knew technology was exploding, seeing the statistics awed me. The most awe-inspiring statistic mentioned first year technical students’ knowledge will be out-dated by their third year. Being a biology student, I understand how quickly things are changing relative to historical rates of change, but this video mentions doubling of technology beyond what I realized. I guess just in my life-time we have made huge jumps. In 1983 almost no one had a personal computer and now many people carry them in their pockets!
As a future teacher, the idea that I will be “preparing students for jobs that do not exist yet with technologies we do not have for problems we don’t know about,” really got me to thinking. I heard Glenn Beck say the other day there are five things that makes a country a superpower: innovation, technology, capital, labor and entrepreneurship. Without going into all the points he made, he stated he believes America’s only chance to remain somewhat of a superpower is to keep our innovation and entrepreneurship thriving. I think this video shows in order to compete globally American students will have to be able to adapt quickly, be creative, be efficient and learn skills to be life-long learners no matter their field of study.
Mr. Winkle Wakes
The author cleverly showed disconnect between “real-world” technologies and classroom technologies. Although most teachers would like to think SMART boards and art projects have changed the pedagogy over the last 200 or so years, they really have not done much to change the way we teach students. Students are basically taught to memorize, regurgitate, and repeat. I guess the hope is that repeating this process enough times will lead to something sinking in permanently, and some does after thirteen years of learning the same basic information year after year.
I hope courses like EDM 310 will help set a desire to change the pedagogy of American schools, but with things such as NCLB and ever increasing amounts of paperwork generated by mostly well intentioned plans, it’s going to be a hard climb. With increased fear of lawsuits, many schools and teachers are concerned about “rocking the boat” to push for changes. In my opinion, the unions do little to help either. I know they served a purpose, but I’m like most traditional Southerners, I am wary of unions. I digress. My point is if we hope to be able to compete, we have to be able to do more than theorize, and I fear in our politically-correct, sue-happy world it might be harder to do than we would like to think.
Schools Kill Creativity
I very much enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson’s lecture. The story of the dancer really hit home for me. Having many family members who have been pushed to the wayside by so-called educators simply because they did not fit the anticipated molds, I discovered early on that people learn differently and that is a good thing. When I was a college freshman, I had to take what I believe South calls freshman orientation. One of the first things we did in this class was to take a learning style test. This is the first time I was told there are many distinct learning styles. I remember the professor telling us that knowing our learning styles and understanding what they would mean would make us better students. I immediately wondered why I was in my fourteenth year of school before I was being told this obviously vital information.
However, thinking back, the best class I ever had in grade school was 6th grade science. At the time, Alabama and PBS ran a program called “Integrated Science” for 6th through 8th grade science classes across the state. Students watched a video on a lesson, while having to fill in the blanks of a handout about what was being taught, then discussed with the teacher about what they just heard and saw, and finally, the crème de la crème, a hands-on experiment! I will never forget the week we made ice cream in Ziploc bags out of soda pop. My classmates and I all drastically improved our science grades that year. Unfortunately, like most good things in education, budget cuts squashed the program before we could begin the 7th grade. So, I guess even if it didn’t last, someone somewhere knew this at least fifteen years ago!
Creativity Myths
The young girl does a nice job interviewing Sir Robinson. I’ve heard that the U.S. has fallen to 14th in world education, but that was a few years ago. The statement that Finnish students do not have school days as long as American students is an important one. I have read studies on the benefits of schools starting later and staying open later, meeting six days instead of just five days a week, and meeting year round. I really think most students would benefit from year round schooling. I think it would cut down on loss of information, and allow more fluidity in learning. I also agree that children are required to be as school way too early in the morning. This is a cultural issue for Americans though, just like year round school is. Our society is trying to move away from the 9-5 lifestyle some, but not nearly enough to warrant changing school hours or days of operation.
I agree with Sir Robinson that it is a myth that not everyone is creative. However, I think we would have to change our idea of creativity in America some as well. At least, I know when I hear people talk about creativity, I initially think of arts and crafts class. Although, I do okay with drawing and better with collages, I worry American teachers would be pulling out markers and glitter and giving grades on scissor ability. All of which I would not do well in. Perhaps that isn’t what Sir Robinson means, and I do think that room to think outside the box should be allowed. Once I thought about it more, allowing students to be creative in science class has many possibilities. I think I will have to explore some more into how I could allow a high school science class to have more creativity in their school work.
Vicki Davis
I loved this teacher! The only thing that would have made it better is if she was a science teacher instead of a computer teacher. It’s refreshing to know though that she is from an apparently rural town in Georgia, and yet her class is making such connections. The best thing she said was she doesn’t know everything, and doesn’t act like she does. I also loved that she had the students take part in the teaching process. I think it’s important, and necessary to know your own abilities, without letting them limit you as a teacher.
When I was teaching at Drop Back In, I did my best to be honest with my students on what I did and didn’t know, especially since I was teaching subjects other than biology. I hope to be a life-long learner and more importantly, I hope to make my students into life-long learners. I would love to work with teachers like those in these videos who are innovative and creative and push me to be a better teacher.


  1. "Students are basically taught to memorize, regurgitate, and repeat." Yes, and how unfortunate that is!

  2. I pushed the button too soon. I had more to say!

    I think you are destined to be a Ms. Davis kind of educator! Great!

    Well done!

  3. Thank you Dr. Strange! I really hope that I am.

  4. I'm teaching a college class this semester on Microsoft Office. (Forget about my opinion on teaching tools.) The course requires my student to learn Excel and Access. I don't use spreadsheets very often and have never, ever done anything with a database. Needless to say I had to let my students know I was no master of these two programs. I'm pretty sure they were surprised although I don't know if it was because of my lack of knowledge or my honesty. :)

  5. lol. I would guess your honesty! Most teachers are slow to admit limited knowledge. At least that has been my experience. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Yes, I think you get it. Just because you install a smartboard doesn't mean education suddenly gets better.