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robertogreco : interest   12

You can't teach writing (and why would you want to?) | The Open School
"volunteering as an after-school tutor for 1st through 8th graders. The place was technically a writing center, situated in suburban Seattle, and open, free of charge, to any kid in the city. Its mission was to help kids learn to write, which would presumably improve their school performance and their prospects for life success.

I walked past that writing center today (I’m visiting Seattle this summer), and spent a moment reminiscing fondly. I remembered the always-warm atmosphere and the kind, helpful teachers. I remembered the fun activities and writing prompts.

Then I remembered why I left, and why I can never work or volunteer at such a place ever again. In the final months of my volunteership, my faith in the basic premise of the writing center faded. The founders of that organization, and the dedicated people who staffed it every day, had to believe wholeheartedly in two things. And I no longer believed in either of those things.

Here are the two necessary beliefs:

1. It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing.
2. Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable.

And here is why I don’t believe those things anymore.

Belief #1: It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing
Writing is hard. I suspect that people who seek writing instruction are feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty of the task and are looking for a way to make it easier — maybe some tips or tricks that the pros use which have somehow been kept secret from us plebeians. But there is no shortcut, no quick fix. There is only lots and lots of work.

A belief in the power of teaching shifts the responsibility for growth off of the learner and onto the teacher. This can only result in slacking on the learner’s part, frustration on the teacher’s part, and a bit of magical thinking to maintain the illusion of success in spite of perfect failure.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, offered this piece of advice:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Perhaps On Writing would have been a fine book even if King had left it at that. By reading a lot, you develop a sense for what good writing looks like and what bad writing looks like — just as a child learns her native language by listening to people talk a lot and learns to detect good grammar and bad grammar. She can’t define good grammar, but she knows it when she hears it.

Once you have that sense, you can start producing your own writing. You’re terrible at first, but now you know you’re terrible because you have that sense. Then you try it a different way and maybe it’s a little better, or maybe not. Then you read some more and refine your sense. Then you practice writing some more.

I suppose a writing teacher can provide prompts, but then again, so can a computer.

I’m reminded of this discouraging piece of wisdom from bestselling novelist Haruki Murakami:

“Being a novelist isn’t a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or even suggested that I be a novelist—in fact, some tried to stop me. I simply had the idea to be one, and that’s what I did.”

A person who loves and values writing will read a lot and write a lot on their own initiative. You don’t need to tell them to write and you certainly don’t need to make them. A person who doesn’t love or value writing will not write, and that’s that. Which brings us to belief #2…

Belief #2: Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable
I suspect that 9 out of 10 of the kids who attend that writing center do not really care about writing, or only care about writing text messages.

I suspect that their parents want them to care about writing, or want them to get good at writing despite not caring about it.

I know that the staff feel, as I do, that writing is the bomb! We love to write and we love to share our love of writing with kids.

But further, the staff believe, as I no longer believe, that writing is inherently, objectively, and universally interesting and valuable. They believe that if a kid doesn’t like writing, it is our job as teachers to inspire a love of writing within them — to awaken that dormant fire that must exist deep down in every person. This process of inspiration can be arduous and uncomfortable, as depicted in this cartoon (which was shared on Facebook by one of those teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week):

[image]

This cartoon is a feel-good fantasy for teachers. No kid has ever been inspired by being chased down and violated. Some kids discover a passion for writing and some don’t. Teachers like to seek validation by pointing to the kids who ultimately discovered a love of writing and saying, “That was me, I did that.” They rarely draw attention to the vastly more numerous kids who were not inspired.

We all have a tendency to feel as though our personal interests are shared by all of humanity. We want others to get excited about the things we get excited about. It’s a way of connecting with one another. We have to learn, by repeatedly butting up against the stubbornness of other people’s interests and values, that everyone is different.

And it’s good that everyone is different! Maybe I’m good at writing but someone else is good at speaking, and yet another person is good at presenting graphs and charts. There is no end to the variation. We compliment others’ weaknesses with our strengths.

I can never go back to that writing center because the very premise of the writing center is this: kids who don’t want to write should be manipulated into writing anyway. Manipulating people in that way has no appeal to me. I look at the above cartoon and imagine myself chasing down that poor kid and prying off his skull while he’s crying in pain and it makes me sick. I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with children.

It’s okay if a kid doesn’t like to write. And it’s okay if he does like to write. I have a notebook, a pen, and a stack of books that he can use anytime."
writing  openschool  aaronbrowder  teaching  teachingwriting  pedagogy  2018  howwewrite  universality  unschooling  deschooling  education  compulsion  compulsory  interest  interests  schooling  schooliness 
august 2018 by robertogreco
dy/dan » Blog Archive » Testify
"Karim Ani, the founder of Mathalicious, hassles me because I design problems about water tanks while Mathalicious tackles issues of greater sociological importance. Traditionalists like Barry Garelick see my 3-Act Math project as superficial multimedia whizbangery and wonder why we don’t just stick with thirty spiraled practice problems every night when that’s worked pretty well for the world so far. Basically everybody I follow on Twitter cast a disapproving eye at posts trying to turn Pokémon Go into the future of education, posts which no one will admit to having written in three months, once Pokémon Go has fallen farther out of the public eye than Angry Birds.

So this 3-Act math task is bound to disappoint everybody above. It’s a trivial question about a piece of pop culture ephemera wrapped up in multimedia whizbangery.

But I had to testify. That’s what this has always been – a testimonial – where by “this” I mean this blog, these tasks, and my career in math education to date.

I don’t care about Pokémon Go. I don’t care about multimedia. I don’t care about the sociological importance of a question.

I care about math’s power to puzzle a person and then help that person unpuzzle herself. I want my work always to testify to that power.

So when I read this article about how people were tricking their smartphones into thinking they were walking (for the sake of achievements in Pokémon Go), I was puzzled. I was curious about other objects that spin, and then about ceiling fans, and then I wondered how long a ceiling fan would have to spin before it had “walked” a necessary number of kilometers. I couldn’t resist the question.

That doesn’t mean you’ll find the question irresistible, or that I think you should. But I feel an enormous burden to testify to my curiosity. That isn’t simple.

“Math is fun,” argues mathematics professor Robert Craigen. “It takes effort to make it otherwise.” But nothing is actually like that – intrinsically interesting or uninteresting. Every last thing – pure math, applied math, your favorite movie, everything – requires humans like ourselves to testify on its behalf.

In one kind of testimonial, I’d stand in front of a class and read the article word-for-word. Then I’d work out all of this math in front of students on the board. I would circle the answer and step back.

But everything I’ve read and experienced has taught me that this would be a lousy testimonial. My curiosity wouldn’t become anybody else’s.

Meanwhile, multimedia allows me to develop a question with students as I experienced it, to postpone helpful tools, information, and resources until they’re necessary, and to show the resolution of that question as it exists in the world itself.

I don’t care about the multimedia. I care about the testimonial. Curiosity is my project. Multimedia lets me testify on its behalf.

So why are you here? What is your project? I care much less about the specifics of your project than I care how you testify on its behalf.

I care about Talking Points much less than Elizabeth Statmore. I care about math mistakes much less than Michael Pershan. I care about elementary math education much less than Tracy Zager and Joe Schwartz. I care about equity much less than Danny Brown and identity much less than Ilana Horn. I care about pure mathematics much less than Sam Shah and Gordi Hamilton. I care about sociological importance much less than Mathalicious. I care about applications of math to art and creativity much less than Anna Weltman.

But I love how each one of them testifies on behalf of their project. When any of them takes the stand to testify, I’m locked in. They make their project my own.

Again:

Why are you here? What is your project? How do you testify on its behalf?"
danmeyer  2016  math  mathematics  teaching  interestedness  pokémongo  curiosity  mathalicious  testament  multimedia  howweteach  interest  wonder  wondering  askingquestions  questionasking  modeling  education  howwelearn  engagement 
august 2016 by robertogreco
How Videogames Like Minecraft Actually Help Kids Learn to Read | WIRED
"Minecraft is the hot new videogame among teachers and parents. It's considered genuinely educational: Like an infinite set of programmable Lego blocks, it's a way to instill spatial reasoning, math, and logic—the skills beloved by science and technology educators. But from what I've seen, it also teaches something else: good old-fashioned reading and writing.

How does it do this? The secret lies not inside the game itself but in the players' activities outside of it. Minecraft is surrounded by a culture of literacy. The game comes with minimal instructions or tutorials, so new players immediately set about hunting for info on how it works. That means watching YouTube videos of experts at play, of course, but it also means poring over how-to texts at Minecraft wikis and “walk-through” sites, written by gamers for gamers. Or digging into printed manuals like The Ultimate Player's Guide to Minecraft or the official Minecraft Redstone Handbook, some of which are now best sellers.

This is complex, challenging material. I analyzed several chunks of The Ultimate Player's Guide using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease scale, and they scored from grade 8 to grade 11. Yet in my neighborhood they're being devoured by kids in the early phases of elementary school. Games, it seems, can motivate kids to read—and to read way above their level. This is what Constance Steinkuehler, a games researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discovered. She asked middle and high school students who were struggling readers (one 11th-grade student read at a 6th-grade level) to choose a game topic they were interested in, and then she picked texts from game sites for them to read—some as difficult as first-year-college language. The kids devoured them with no help and nearly perfect accuracy.

How could they do this? “Because they're really, really motivated,” Steinkuehler tells me. It wasn't just that the students knew the domain well; there were plenty of unfamiliar words. But they persisted more because they cared about the task. “It's situated knowledge. They see a piece of language, a turn of phrase, and they figure it out.”

Hannah Gerber, a literacy researcher at Sam Houston State University, found much the same thing. She monitored several 10th-grade students at school and at home and saw that they read only 10 minutes a day in English class—but an astonishing 70 minutes at home as they boned up on games. Again, it was challenging stuff. Steinkuehler found that videogame sites devoted to World of Warcraft, for example, are written at nearly 12th-grade level, with a 2 to 6 percent incidence of “academic” jargon.

Passion for games drives writing too. When Steinkuehler informally observes kids contributing to game sites and discussions online, she sees serious craft. “Suddenly, being a writer is sexy and hip and cool. They have an audience that knows their stuff, and they expect you to be knowledgeable,” she says. What about fiction? Oh, games have you covered there too: Behold the teeming seas of Minecraft fan stories at sites like FanFiction.net or Wattpad. My kids are deep into a trilogy of Minecraft novellas—written by a 13-year-old girl in Missouri.

I'm praising Minecraft, but nearly all games have this effect. The lesson here is the same one John Dewey instructed us in a century ago: To get kids reading and writing, give them a real-world task they care about. These days that's games."
minecraft  2014  clivethomson  games  gaming  videogames  literacy  edg  srg  reading  writing  multiliteracies  motivation  johndewey  hannahgerber  passion  interest  fanfiction  constancesteinkuehler  comprehension  howweread  children  learning  howwelearn  education 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Outstanding Video About Modern Knowledge Construction
"I shot this amateur video at the Constructionism 2012 Conference in Athens, Greece. It is a recording of Dr. Mike Eisenberg‘s remarkable plenary address based on his paper, “Constructionism: New Technologies, New Purposes.”

Anyone interested in learning, emerging technology, creativity, the arts, science or craft would be wise to watch this terrific presentation."

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/49891132 ]
anthropology  bedrooms  economics  displays  hangouts  traditions  rituals  interest  passion  misfits  weirdos  schooldesign  design  settings  setting  popularity  uptonsinclair  vannevarbush  arts  art  craft  doing  making  deschooling  unschooling  science  projectbasedlearning  arduino  3dprinting  spaces  meaningmaking  purpose  agency  networks  activities  openstudioproject  lcproject  environment  srg  edg  glvo  education  technology  learning  children  constructionist  constructionism  2012  mikeeisenberg  pbl  ritual 
september 2012 by robertogreco
(SL) DISTIN 15 (This is what happens.)
"Looking, really looking, at art (some might say seeing…feeling) is like this: It is like all the other really amazing things in life…You do it too much & you forget how good it can actually be…you become jaded. You don’t get enough & it is all you can think about—the good & the bad. Then, there is one photo…drawing…performance & you want to know all there is to know about it…It is a little bit like falling in love. It’s best, most exciting, when you don’t know why you like something…the thing you are looking at is something you might usually be inclined to dislike…But, with this, you cannot stop looking, cannot stop thinking. And so, in every other thing that you think about, talk about, read about, talk about, read about, you start to see it in all of those other things, whether or not they, directly, have anything to do with that thing you are suddenly, entirely, falling for…all of those other things have changed. And everything that you thought you knew is no longer the same."
rabbitholes  looking  taste  feeling  artappreciation  interestedness  interest  interests  thinking  howwelearn  evolution  understanding  appreciation  art  love  2011  passion  obsession  wittgenstein  change  yearning  learning  noticing  seeing  saradistin  canon  interested 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Three rules for bringing out the best in teachers « Re-educate Seattle
"My friend Nick wrote to me earlier this week and scolded me for constantly critiquing the existing paradigm while rarely proposing specific solutions. So, with a nod to Nick, here’s my specific advice:

1.    Hire talented teachers and let them teach what inspires them.

2.    Never require—in fact, never allow—a teacher to teach content that doesn’t inspire him or her.

3.    Allow teachers to bring their whole selves to work; don’t limit their ability to share talents and things they love simply because it falls outside of their academic department.

I know what you’re thinking: If we followed this advice, we’d have to completely re-invent the way we’ve structured our schools. The current model simply can’t accommodate these recommendations.

Exactly. We have to re-invent the way we structure our schools."
pscs  stevemiranda  tcsnmy  education  teaching  change  gamechanging  passion  interest  interestdriven  interestdriventeaching  standards  hiring  management  administration  curriculum  curriculumisdead  lcproject  schools  pugetsoundcommunityschool 
february 2011 by robertogreco
A VC: Why Taxing Carried Interest As Ordinary Income Is Good Policy
"We have witnessed financial services (think asset management, hedge funds, buyout funds, private equity, and venture capital) grow as a percentage of GNP for the past thirty years. The best and brightest don't go into engineering, science, manufacturing, general management, or entrepreneurship, they go to wall street where they will get paid more. And on top of that, we have been giving these jobs a tax break. That seems like bad policy. If we force hedge funds and the like to compete for talent on a more level playing field, then maybe we'll see our best and brightest minds go to more productive activities than moving money around and taking a cut of the action. .. It's time for asset managers to start paying their fair share of taxes. We are among the most highly compensated people in the world. And we've been getting a huge tax break for years. It's not right and I am happy to see our government finally do something about it."
fredwilson  finance  law  management  money  policy  politics  taxes  us  taxbreaks  2010  carriedinterest  interest 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Sci-Fi Hi-Fi: Weblog: Ambient Recommendation
"I think the reasons these more casual recommendation and discovery methods work better for me are 3-fold: 1. They allow me to employ my fuzzy, intuitive perception of peoples’ broader personality and taste to determine how likely I am to like the things they like (I thought the person on Brightkite looked cool, so I trusted her taste; I think my Last.fm friends are cool, so I trust that new stuff I see them playing will be interesting to me). 2. They aren’t explicitly recommendation systems, but rather allow people to implicitly recommend things just by going about their normal business (someone likes a web page so they post it to Delicious to remember it later, the hipsters at Frankies like Gene Clark so they play his music while they work and I hear it incidentally). I think people are more likely to participate in this kind of system than one where they are expected to formally recommend things. 3. They don’t require me to narrow what I’m looking for by overly specific criteria"
del.icio.us  design  learning  social  recommendations  brightkite  yelp  flickr  ubicomp  iphone  community  portland  oregon  travel  taste  discovery  serendipity  seach  ambient  inspiration  perception  intuition  interest 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Quote by Stanley Kubrick: "I think the big mistake in schools is trying to te..."
"I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker."
teaching  fear  schools  learning  children  education  motivation  unschooling  deschooling  stanleykubrick  interest  self-directedlearning  interestdriven  homeschool  grades  grading  assessment  power 
june 2009 by robertogreco
accismus - Wiktionary
"Feigning disinterest in something while actually desiring it."
definitions  words  english  interest  desire  disinterest  etiquette  social 
october 2008 by robertogreco

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