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robertogreco : mentors   23

[Easy Chair] | Abolish High School, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"I didn’t go to high school. This I think of as one of my proudest accomplishments and one of my greatest escapes, because everyone who grows up in the United States goes to high school. It’s such an inevitable experience that people often mishear me and think I dropped out.

I was a withdrawn, bookish kid all through elementary school, but the difficulty of being a misfit intensified when I started seventh grade. As I left campus at the end of my first day, people shouted insults that ensured I knew my clothes didn’t cut it. Then there was P.E., where I had to don a horrendous turquoise-striped polyester garment that looked like a baby’s onesie and follow orders to run or jump or play ball — which is hard to do when you’re deeply withdrawn — after which I had to get naked, in all my late-bloomer puniness, and take showers in front of strangers. In science class we were graded on crafting notebooks with many colors of pen; in home economics, which was only for girls — boys had shop — we learned to make a new kind of cake by combining pudding mix with cake mix; even in English class I can remember reading only one book: Dickens’s flattest novel, Hard Times. At least the old history teacher in the plaid mohair sweaters let me doze in the front row, so long as I knew the answers when asked.

In junior high, everything became a little more dangerous. Most of my peers seemed to be learning the elaborate dance between the sexes, sometimes literally, at school dances I never dreamed of attending, or in the form of the routines through which girls with pompoms ritually celebrated boys whose own role in that rite consisted of slamming into one another on the field.

I skipped my last year of traditional junior high school, detouring for ninth and tenth grade into a newly created alternative junior high. (The existing alternative high school only took eleventh and twelfth graders.) The district used this new school as a dumping ground for its most insubordinate kids, so I shared two adjoining classrooms with hard-partying teenage girls who dated adult drug dealers, boys who reeked of pot smoke, and other misfits like me. The wild kids impressed me because, unlike the timorous high achievers I’d often been grouped with at the mainstream school, they seemed fearless and free, skeptical about the systems around them.

There were only a few dozen students, and the adults treated us like colleagues. There was friendship and mild scorn but little cruelty, nothing that pitted us against one another or humiliated us, no violence, no clearly inculcated hierarchy. I didn’t gain much conventional knowledge, but I read voraciously and had good conversations. You can learn a lot that way. Besides, I hadn’t been gaining much in regular school either.

I was ravenous to learn. I’d waited for years for a proper chance at it, and the high school in my town didn’t seem like a place where I was going to get it. I passed the G.E.D. test at fifteen, started community college the following fall, and transferred after two semesters to a four-year college, where I began, at last, to get an education commensurate with my appetite.

What was it, I sometimes wonder, that I was supposed to have learned in the years of high school that I avoided? High school is often considered a definitive American experience, in two senses: an experience that nearly everyone shares, and one that can define who you are, for better or worse, for the rest of your life. I’m grateful I escaped the particular definition that high school would have imposed on me, and I wish everyone else who suffered could have escaped it, too.

For a long time I’ve thought that high school should be abolished. I don’t mean that people in their teens should not be educated at public expense. The question is what they are educated in. An abolitionist proposal should begin by acknowledging all the excellent schools and teachers and educations out there; the people who have a pleasant, useful time in high school; and the changes being wrought in the nature of secondary education today. It should also recognize the tremendous variety of schools, including charter and magnet schools in the public system and the private schools — religious, single-sex, military, and prep — that about 10 percent of American students attend, in which the values and pedagogical systems may be radically different. But despite the caveats and anomalies, the good schools and the students who thrive (or at least survive), high school is hell for too many Americans. If this is so, I wonder why people should be automatically consigned to it.

In 2010, Dan Savage began the It Gets Better Project, which has gathered and posted video testimonials from gay and lesbian adults and queer-positive supporters (tens of thousands of them, eventually, including professional sports stars and the president) to address the rash of suicides by young queer people. The testimonials reassure teenagers that there is life after high school, that before long they’ll be able to be who they are without persecution — able to find love, able to live with dignity, and able to get through each day without facing intense harassment. It’s a worthy project, but it implicitly accepts that non-straight kids must spend their formative years passing through a homophobic gauntlet before arriving at a less hostile adult world. Why should they have to wait?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, responsible for some 4,600 deaths per year. Federal studies report that for every suicide there are at least a hundred attempts — nearly half a million a year. Eight percent of high school students have attempted to kill themselves, and 16 percent have considered trying. That’s a lot of people crying out for something to change.

We tend to think that adolescence is inherently ridden with angst, but much of the misery comes from the cruelty of one’s peers. Twenty-eight percent of public school students and 21 percent of private school students report being bullied, and though inner-city kids are routinely portrayed in the press as menaces, the highest levels of bullying are reported among white kids and in nonurban areas. Victims of bullying are, according to a Yale study, somewhere between two and nine times more likely to attempt suicide. Why should children be confined to institutions in which these experiences are so common?

Antibullying programs have proliferated to such an extent that even the Southern Poverty Law Center has gotten involved, as though high school had joined its list of hate groups. An educational video produced by the S.P.L.C. focuses on the case of Jamie Nabozny, who successfully sued the administrators of his small-town Wisconsin school district for doing nothing to stop — and sometimes even blaming him for — the years of persecution he had suffered, including an attack that ruptured his spleen. As Catherine A. Lugg, an education scholar specializing in public school issues, later wrote, “The Nabozny case clearly illustrates the public school’s historic power as the enforcer of expected norms regarding gender, heteronormativity, and homophobia.”

I once heard Helena Norberg-Hodge, an economic analyst and linguist who studies the impact of globalization on nonindustrialized societies, say that generational segregation was one of the worst kinds of segregation in the United States. The remark made a lasting impression: that segregation was what I escaped all those years ago. My first friends were much older than I was, and then a little older; these days they are all ages. We think it’s natural to sort children into single-year age cohorts and then process them like Fords on an assembly line, but that may be a reflection of the industrialization that long ago sent parents to work away from their children for several hours every day.

Since the 1970s, Norberg-Hodge has been visiting the northern Indian region of Ladakh. When she first arrived such age segregation was unknown there. “Now children are split into different age groups at school,” Norberg-Hodge has written. “This sort of leveling has a very destructive effect. By artificially creating social units in which everyone is the same age, the ability of children to help and to learn from each other is greatly reduced.” Such units automatically create the conditions for competition, pressuring children to be as good as their peers. “In a group of ten children of quite different ages,” Norberg-Hodge argues, “there will naturally be much more cooperation than in a group of ten twelve-year-olds.”

When you are a teenager, your peers judge you by exacting and narrow criteria. But those going through the same life experiences at the same time often have little to teach one another about life. Most of us are safer in our youth in mixed-age groups, and the more time we spend outside our age cohort, the broader our sense of self. It’s not just that adults and children are good for adolescents. The reverse is also true. The freshness, inquisitiveness, and fierce idealism of a wide-awake teenager can be exhilarating, just as the stony apathy of a shut-down teenager can be dismal.

A teenager can act very differently outside his or her peer group than inside it. A large majority of hate crimes and gang rapes are committed by groups of boys and young men, and studies suggest that the perpetrators are more concerned with impressing one another and conforming to their group’s codes than with actual hatred toward outsiders. Attempts to address this issue usually focus on changing the social values to which such groups adhere, but dispersing or diluting these groups seems worth consideration, too.

High school in America is too often a place where one learns to conform or take punishment — and conformity is itself a kind of punishment, one that can flatten out your soul or estrange you from it.

High school, particularly the suburban and small-town varieties, can … [more]
rebeccasolnit  2015  highschool  education  schools  schooling  adolescence  unschooling  deschooling  oppression  teens  youth  hierarchy  agesegregation  internships  apprenticeships  mentoring  mentors  popularity  jockocracies  sports  rapeculture  us  society  peers  hatecrime  conformity  values  helenanorberg-hodge  lcproject  openstudioproject  cooperation  competition  segregation  bullying  bullies  splc  persecution  gender  sexuality  heteronormativity  homophobia  angst  cruelty  suicide  dances  prom  misfits  friendship  learning  howwelearn  srg  glvo  edg 
june 2018 by robertogreco
How I Visit a School: Talk to the Janitor First – Dr. Cesar A. Cruz – Medium
"They’re the ones with all the keys. Every school visit, for me, would begin with the janitor. Not the principal, or the instructional leader. The person who cleans up after everyone. Why? Because while school leaders will agree that their janitors are core members of staff, they rarely, if ever, get invited to staff meetings because most schools don’t know how to value the wisdom, mentorship and know-how that they bring. But when I listen to janitors, I quickly learn that they know where the kids go to cry, where they hide, who is in pain, which adults are struggling, and so much more. They check the pulse of a school every single day. Try it, and you’ll wonder why you’d never thought of it before.


If you do go to speak to the janitor, have your hands free and be ready to roll up your sleeves. They won’t have time to stop for our 100 questions about the school — they’re busy wiping tables, removing gum, sweeping the floor, or cleaning the toilets. So I start by asking permission to help, and if they agree, I introduce myself and I’m real with them. I thank them for their often-thankless work. I acknowledge that some people may feel so entitled that they trash their classrooms every day.

Here are some of the questions I generally ask the janitor as we work:

What’s it like for kids to go to school here?

Who’s getting served well at this school? Who isn’t?

Who helps the kids who struggle?

Tell me about the parents, the neighborhood.

What is beautiful about this neighborhood?

One question always gives them pause, because so few adults recognize the role they play: What about the mentoring that you do? Tell me about the kids who gravitate towards you. Tell me about those kids.

Most janitors mentor, and a lot. I’ve met janitors who’ve given art supplies to school taggers. They are the first to respond to a kid who got beat up and comfort them. They come to the aid of the kid crying in the bathroom. They see it all, and engage on a human level, every day. And it’s true that the janitor is probably someone who looks a lot like most of the students at the school, which might be one of the many reasons kids go to them when no one else is looking.

I also ask about the unseen hardships of their job, their role at this school: What is asked of you, and how are you treated here? Do you have health insurance? A living wage? Are you invited to staff meetings, to conversations with the leadership? Where do you live? How do you live? What are the habits of the teachers here?

Finally, I ask them: If these walls could talk, what would they say? In fact, what have they said already? You see, graffiti is not just vandalism — it’s a data point — and one that comes directly from the students. So before I leave the janitor and thank them for sharing their wisdom and insights, and their hard work, I ask them who tags, and what they tag.

Kids tag five types of graffiti:

1. Their name or nickname, because they want to matter and they want to be noticed. They say, Please see me, see my name. I am invisible here, and I want to be seen.

2. Their block or neighborhood name, because they are proud of where they’re from and want to share that.

3. A response to a rival, because they want to lay their claim, or cross out another’s name and say you’re in my territory — not unlike presidents who bomb countries. Kids follow that lead, and mark their territory as well.

4. RIP [insert name of a loved one here], because many kids are mourning the death of a friend, of family member, and the pain is too much to bear without expressing it.

5. Freedom for [insert name of a loved one here], because many kids have a friend or family member who is locked up and their greatest wish is for that other person to be free — and if there is no chance of that, these kids are in a kind of mourning, too.

Imagine, all that we can learn by reading the writings on the walls and listening to the one who “cleans” it all up?

If we take very careful mental notes, not necessarily on a note pad like an investigative reporter, or a piece of technology, or a distracting rubric — we might leave so informed by a single conversation that it will lead to a much deeper analysis and understanding of that school.

Step 2. Listen to the one who runs the school (and I don’t mean the principal).

This person has almost as many keys as the janitor does. No, not the principal, but the administrative person, or secretary, who typically knows everything, and if they don’t, they know how to find out. It’s worth noting that the secretary may look like most of the students, and if much of the student population is bilingual, usually the secretary is, too. They’re sometimes the face of the school, and sometimes they present a façade that the staff is diverse, but with a monolithic staff behind them. That secretary may have to play every role at that school including the translator for every meeting.

With the secretary, I don’t ask them for anything before humbly and sincerely thanking them for all they do to keep this school running. I ask them about their work — what’s on their plate on a daily basis? A tip: Unless you are a school secretary, it would be great if you didn’t say, “I know how that feels.” It is well-intentioned, but most likely inaccurate, and probably won’t help you much if you’re trying to connect with them.

It is a blessing to listen deeply and practice patient empathy as they vent or release. They deserve it. Secretaries are often the de facto administrator, disciplinarian, nurse, the one who knows where everything is, the person with whom every parent has a problem, etc. It is a lot to carry, and with no real opportunity for release. So I start by being that for them, and gratefully.

I ask the secretary the same questions I ask the janitor, above.

If they have the time, I ask for a tour (from the janitor, too). This tour will be undoubtedly different from one the instructional leader will give.

Step 3. Roam.

Then, if allowed, I roam the school. I make sure to wear my visitor sticker in a place where people can see it so they know I’m a safe person. Some visitors, from certain identities, fit in more with the school than others. If you are not that person, walk slowly and proceed with smiles and try not to scare anyone. (For some reason, schools struggle to allow a plus-size Mexican man with lots of tattoos to roam a school, as many adults struggle to believe that he might have a doctorate in education and is a professional. But I digress.)

I try to find the kids who are actively trying not to be found. I reassure them that they are not in trouble, share something about myself, keep it real. Mine might sound like this, “What’s up, my name is César, I’m a teacher, and I’m trying to create a bomb school for kids, I could really use your wisdom.” That seems to work most of the time, and then ask them what they really think of the school: Who are the cool teachers, and why? Who brings you down and why? You will be surprised to learn that there are many dream-crushers at schools — at least kids think so. If you were the principal of the school, how would they make this place awesome? At this point, listen, as if time had stood still, and see where these geniuses take you.

I ask them how the kids at the school deal with sadness. If they mention popping pills or smoking weed, I ask them what the school thinks about that. I ask them who connects with them, who understands them, who has their back. Ask them what brings them deep joy. Ask them about the janitor and the secretary.

If allowed, I have them show me their school. In particular, I ask them to show me what you see, that most others don’t. I ask them who feels like they belong at the school, and who is made to feel like an outsider.

I ask them what’s beautiful about their neighborhood and their school.

Step 4. Focus.

If the school will allow it, I get a focus group together with a diverse group of young people. I specifically ask the school to include some of the students who “hate” the school, too. Or if that seems like an alienating concept for the adults at the school, I’ll reframe it: “I would love to listen to the students who are both struggling, and may possibly be disengaged. It’s great to hear from the students who “push” the school’s buttons.”

I listen closely to how the adults in charge at a school describe the kids who “cause problems.” A lot of coded and not-so-coded language. A tip: Be prepared to say something when you hear the words “bad kids.” This is your moment, what you do with it will be very telling of your leadership skills. You may hear words like “trouble makers,” “those little gang bangers,” “bunch of truants,” you may even hear words like “crack babies,” and so on. The coded language of the poverty of expectations shows up in interesting ways. You may hear words like those “low SES kids” (socio-economic students), or the classic “free and reduced lunch” kids. When you do, you have an interesting opportunity to ask, how might those kids be described through an asset lens? Please pay close attention to what these leaders say and don’t say, and their body language. This single interaction can be incredibly telling. And you haven’t even gotten to the focus group yet.

By listening deeply to the janitor, secretary, and the students who are not “assigned” to speak with me on a school visit, I learn so much. Keeping it real and leading with humility goes a long way so people can feel safe enough to tell me what they really think. That insight is priceless.

It’s the wisdom that doesn’t always appear on the official tour, the pamphlet, or on the website, that we need to capture. This isn’t the only way to do it, but it’s how I do it.

Let’s hear from you: How do you approach a school visit? Have you ever … [more]
schools  sfsh  2017  cesarcruz  janitors  schoolclimate  whoknows  mentoring  mentors 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People | The American Conservative
"My grandma (Mamaw) recognized this instinctively. She said that most people were probably prejudiced, but they had to be secretive about it. “We”–meaning hillbillies–“are the only group of people you don’t have to be ashamed to look down upon.” During my final year at Yale Law, I took a small class with a professor I really admired (and still do). was the only veteran in the class, and when this came up somehow in conversation, a young woman looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you were in the Marines. You just seem so nice. I thought that people in the military had to act a certain way.” It was incredibly insulting, and it was my first real introduction to the idea that this institution that was so important among my neighbors was looked down upon in such a personal way. To this lady, to be in the military meant that you had to be some sort of barbarian.



"At the same time, the hostility between the working class and the elites is so great that there will always be some wariness toward those who go to the other side. And can you blame them? A lot of these people know nothing but judgment and condescension from those with financial and political power, and the thought of their children acquiring that same hostility is noxious. It may just be the sort of value we have to live with.

The odd thing is, the deeper I get into elite culture, the more I see value in this reverse snobbery. It’s the great privilege of my life that I’m deep enough into the American elite that I can indulge a little anti-elitism. Like I said, it keeps you grounded, if nothing else! But it would have been incredibly destructive to indulge too much of it when I was 18.



the point that the meta-narrative of the 2016 election is learned helplessness as a political value. We’re no longer a country that believes in human agency, and as a formerly poor person, I find it incredibly insulting. To hear Trump or Clinton talk about the poor, one would draw the conclusion that they have no power to affect their own lives. Things have been done to them, from bad trade deals to Chinese labor competition, and they need help. And without that help, they’re doomed to lives of misery they didn’t choose.

Obviously, the idea that there aren’t structural barriers facing both the white and black poor is ridiculous. Mamaw recognized that our lives were harder than rich white people, but she always tempered her recognition of the barriers with a hard-noses willfulness: “never be like those a–holes who think the deck is stacked against them.” In hindsight, she was this incredibly perceptive woman. She recognized the message my environment had for me, and she actively fought against it.

There’s good research on this stuff. Believing you have no control is incredibly destructive, and that may be especially true when you face unique barriers. The first time I encountered this idea was in my exposure to addiction subculture, which is quite supportive and admirable in its own way, but is full of literature that speaks about addiction as a disease. If you spend a day in these circles, you’ll hear someone say something to the effect of, “You wouldn’t judge a cancer patient for a tumor, so why judge an addict for drug use.” This view is a perfect microcosm of the problem among poor Americans. On the one hand, the research is clear that there are biological elements to addiction–in that way, it does mimic a disease. On the other hand, the research is also clear that people who believe their addiction is a biologically mandated disease show less ability to resist it. It’s this awful catch-22, where recognizing the true nature of the problem actually hinders the ability to overcome.

Interestingly, both in my conversations with poor blacks and whites, there’s a recognition of the role of better choices in addressing these problems. The refusal to talk about individual agency is in some ways a consequence of a very detached elite, one too afraid to judge and consequently too handicapped to really understand. At the same time, poor people don’t like to be judged, and a little bit of recognition that life has been unfair to them goes a long way. Since Hillbilly Elegy came out, I’ve gotten so many messages along the lines of: “Thank you for being sympathetic but also honest.”

I think that’s the only way to have this conversation and to make the necessary changes: sympathy and honesty. It’s not easy, especially in our politically polarized world, to recognize both the structural and the cultural barriers that so many poor kids face. But I think that if you don’t recognize both, you risk being heartless or condescending, and often both.



[to liberals:] stop pretending that every problem is a structural problem, something imposed on the poor from the outside. I see a significant failure on the Left to understand how these problems develop. They see rising divorce rates as the natural consequence of economic stress. Undoubtedly, that’s partially true. Some of these family problems run far deeper. They see school problems as the consequence of too little money (despite the fact that the per pupil spend in many districts is quite high), and ignore that, as a teacher from my hometown once told me, “They want us to be shepherds to these kids, but they ignore that many of them are raised by wolves.” Again, they’re not all wrong: certainly some schools are unfairly funded. But there’s this weird refusal to deal with the poor as moral agents in their own right. In some cases, the best that public policy can do is help people make better choices, or expose them to better influences through better family policy (like my Mamaw).

There was a huge study that came out a couple of years ago, led by the Harvard economist Raj Chetty. He found that two of the biggest predictors of low upward mobility were 1) living in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and 2) growing up in a neighborhood with a lot of single mothers. I recall that some of the news articles about the study didn’t even mention the single mother conclusion. That’s a massive oversight! Liberals have to get more comfortable with dealing with the poor as they actually are. I admire their refusal to look down on the least among us, but at some level, that can become an excuse to never really look at the problem at all.



Well, I think it’s important to point out that Christianity, in the quirky way I’ve experienced it, was really important to me, too. For my dad, the way he tells it is that he was a hard partier, he drank a lot, and didn’t have a lot of direction. His Christian faith gave him focus, forced him to think hard about his personal choices, and gave him a community of people who demanded, even if only implicitly, that he act a certain way. I think we all understate the importance of moral pressure, but it helped my dad, and it has certainly helped me! There’s obviously a more explicitly religious argument here, too. If you believe as I do, you believe that the Holy Spirit works in people in a mysterious way. I recognize that a lot of secular folks may look down on that, but I’d make one important point: that not drinking, treating people well, working hard, and so forth, requires a lot of willpower when you didn’t grow up in privilege. That feeling–whether it’s real or entirely fake–that there’s something divine helping you and directing your mind and body, is extraordinarily powerful.

General Chuck Krulak, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, once said that the most important thing the Corps does for the country is “win wars and make Marines.” I didn’t understand that statement the first time I heard it, but for a kid like me, the Marine Corps was basically a four-year education in character and self-management. The challenges start small–running two miles, then three, and more. But they build on each other. If you have good mentors (and I certainly did), you are constantly given tasks, yelled at for failing, advised on how not to fail next time, and then given another try. You learn, through sheer repetition, that you can do difficult things. And that was quite revelatory for me. It gave me a lot of self-confidence. If I had learned helplessness from my environment back home, four years in the Marine Corps taught me something quite different.



After so many years of Republican politicians refusing to even talk about factory closures, Trump’s message is an oasis in the desert. But of course he spent way too much time appealing to people’s fears, and he offered zero substance for how to improve their lives. It was Trump at his best and worst.

My biggest fear with Trump is that, because of the failures of the Republican and Democratic elites, the bar for the white working class is too low. They’re willing to listen to Trump about rapist immigrants and banning all Muslims because other parts of his message are clearly legitimate. A lot of people think Trump is just the first to appeal to the racism and xenophobia that were already there, but I think he’s making the problem worse.

The other big problem I have with Trump is that he has dragged down our entire political conversation. It’s not just that he inflames the tribalism of the Right; it’s that he encourages the worst impulses of the Left. In the past few weeks, I’ve heard from so many of my elite friends some version of, “Trump is the racist leader all of these racist white people deserve.” These comments almost always come from white progressives who know literally zero culturally working class Americans. And I’m always left thinking: if this is the quality of thought of a Harvard Law graduate, then our society is truly doomed. In a world of Trump, we’ve abandoned the pretense of persuasion. The November election strikes me as little more than a referendum on whose tribe is bigger."
donaldtrump  us  elections  2016  politics  poverty  roddreher  jdvance  agency  personalagency  race  economics  policy  optimism  bias  hostility  elitism  tribalism  progressives  liberals  resilience  military  christianity  structure  discipline  willpower  mentors  self-management  character  education  society  class  judgement  condescension  helplessness  despair  learnedhelplessness  sympathy  honesty  rajchetty  snobbery  complexity 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Maker Education: Pedagogy, Andragogy, Heutagogy | User Generated Education
"Maker education is currently a major trend in education. But just saying that one is doing Maker Education really doesn’t define the teaching practices that an educator is using to facilitate it. Maker education takes on many forms. This post provides an overview of how maker education is being implemented based on the teaching practices as defined by the Pedagogy, Andragogy, Heutagogy (PAH) continuum.

[chart]

Traditionally, Pedagogy was defined as the art of teaching children and Andragogy as teaching adults. These definitions have evolved to reflect teacher practices. As such, andragogical and heutagogical practices can be used with children and youth.

PAH within a Maker Education Framework

The following chart distinguishes and describes maker education within the PAH framework. All teaching styles have a place in Maker Education. For example, pedagogical practices may be needed to teach learners some basic making skills. It helps to scaffold learning, so learners have a foundation for making more complex projects. I do, though, believe that maker education projects and programs should go beyond pedagogical oriented teaching as the overriding goal of maker education is for learners to create something, anything that they haven’t before.

Driving Questions

• Pedagogy – How well can you create this particular maker education project?
• Andragogy – How can this prescribed maker project by adapted and modified?
• Heutagogy – What do you want to make?

Overall Purpose or Goal

• Pedagogy – To teach basic skills as a foundation for future projects – scaffolding.
• Andragogy – To provide some structure so learners can be self-directed.
• Heutogogy – To establish an environment where learners can determine their own goals, learning paths, processes, and products for making.

Role of the Educator

• Pedagogy – To teach, demonstrate, help learners do the maker education project correctly.
• Andragogy – To facilitate, assist learners, mentor
• Heutagogy – To coach, mentor, be a sounding board, be a guide very much on the side.

Making Process

• Pedagogy – Use of prescribed kits, templates; step-by-step directions and tutorials.
• Andragogy – Use of some templates; learners add their own designs and embellishments.
• Heutagogy -Open ended; determined by the learner.

Finish Products

• Pedagogy – A maker project that looks and acts like the original model.
• Andragogy – A maker project that has some attributes of the original model but that includes the learner’s original ideas.
• Heutagogy – A maker project that is unique to the learner (& to the learning community)."
pedagogy  andragogy  heutagogy  education  teaching  learning  making  makers  projectbasedlearning  constructivism  constructionism  emergent  emergentpedagogy  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  community  individualization  personalization  differentiation  mentors  mentoring  sfsh  jackiegerstein  tcsnmy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school. Here’s what he found. - The Washington Post
[Alt URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/03/a-venture-capitalist-searches-for-the-purpose-of-school-heres-what-he-found/ ]

"I was now fully consumed with this cause. I stepped up my pace, criss-crossing the country to visit schools and gain perspective. I was in hot pursuit of the right answer to the question: “What is the purpose of school?” Everywhere I looked — mission statements, meetings with school leaders, websites — I’d find sensible, even inspiring, purposes:

• teach students cognitive and social skills
• teach students to think
• build character and soul
• help students in a process of self-discovery
• prepare students to be responsible, contributing citizens
• inspire students through the study of humanity’s great works
• prepare students for productive careers

I probed educators on these alternatives, trying to determine the purpose of school, as though answering an SAT question. But I gradually came to realize that this choice was poorly framed. For starters, each of these goals have merit. If some classrooms prepare students for productive careers, and others prioritize on character development, that’s a good thing. And shouldn’t we celebrate an educator who accomplishes one of these goals — not snipe over whether an alternative purpose is superior?

But what came across loud and clear in my journeys is that schools don’t have the luxury of striving for any meaningful purpose. We’ve somehow imposed a system on our educators that requires them to:

• cover volumes of bureaucratically-prescribed content
• boost scores on increasingly-pervasive standardized tests
• get kids through this year’s vacuous hoops to prepare for next year’s vacuous hoops
• produce acceptable graduation rates and college placements
• deal with parents who are either obsessive micro-managers or missing in action.

How did we get here? A deep dive into the history of education helped me appreciate that our school model was brilliantly designed. Over a century ago. In 1893, Charles Eliot of Harvard and the Committee of Ten anticipated a surge of manufacturing jobs as our country moved beyond agriculture. They re-imagined the U.S. education model, ushering in a factory school model to replace the one-room school house. This path-breaking system of universal public education trained students to perform rote tasks rapidly without errors or creative variation — perfect for assembly-line jobs. The system worked spectacularly, a robust middle class emerged, and America became the world’s most powerful country.

Somewhat incredibly, we still utilize this covered-wagon-era education model. Warning signs about its faltering effectiveness go back for decades. In 1983, the blue-ribbon report titled “A Nation At Risk” concluded that if our education system had been imposed on us by a foreign country, we’d declare it an act of war. Yet instead of reinventing the model (as the Committee of Ten did in 1893), we chose to muddle along with short-term, often counter-productive, tweaks. Teachers and students described to me endless additions to content, baffling new standards, and relentless high-stakes standardized tests of low-level cognitive skills. Our nation is hellbent on catching Singapore and South Korea on test scores — a goal those very countries have concluded is nonsensical. We’re betting millions of futures on No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — our twin orbiting black holes of education — with annual reports on par with the season run-down for the Washington Generals.

And how much are our kids really learning? If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that they’re not learning. Practically anything.

In my travels, I visited the Lawrenceville School, rated as one of the very best high schools in the United States. To its credit, Lawrenceville conducted a fascinating experiment a decade ago. After summer vacation, returning students retook the final exams they had completed in June for their science courses. Actually, they retook simplified versions of these exams, after faculty removed low-level “forgettable” questions The results were stunning. The average grade in June was a B+ (87 percent). When the simplified test was taken in September, the average grade plummeted to an F (58 percent). Not one student retained mastery of all key concepts they appear to have learned in June. The obvious question: if what was “learned” vanishes so quickly, was anything learned in the first place?

The holy grail in our high schools is the Advanced Placement (AP) track. Pioneered 50 years ago by elite private schools to demonstrate the superior student progress, AP courses now pervade mainstream public schools. Over and over, well-intentioned people call for improving U.S. education by getting more of our kids — especially in poor communities — into AP courses. But do our kids learn in AP courses? In an experiment conducted by Dartmouth College, entering students with a 5 on their AP Psychology exam took the final exam from the college’s introductory Psych course. A pitiful 10 percent passed. Worse, when the AP superstars did enroll in intro Psych, they performed no better than classmates with no prior coursework in the subject area. It’s as though the AP students had learned nothing about psychology. And that’s the point.

Along the way, I met Eric Mazur, Area Dean for Applied Physics at Harvard University, and was surprised to discover that many of our country’s most innovative ideas about education come from this one physics professor. Over a decade ago, Eric realized that even his top students (800 on SAT’s, 5 on AP Physics, A in first-year Physics at Harvard) were learning almost no real science. When asked simple questions about how the world works (e.g., what’s the flight path of a pallet of bricks dropped from the cargo hatch of a plane flying overhead?), their responses were little better than guessing. He abandoned his traditional course format (centered on memorizing formulas and definitions), and re-invented his classroom experience. His students debate each other in engaged Socratic discussion, collaborate and critique, and develop real insights into their physical universe. While his results are superb, almost all other U.S. high-school and college science classes, even at top-rated institutions, remain locked into a broken pedagogy whose main purpose is weeding kids out of these career paths..

Systematic studies, such as the findings of Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s groundbreaking book “Academically Adrift,” reach similar conclusions about how little our students are learning, even at the college level. They report that “gains in student performance are disturbingly low; a pattern of limited learning is prevalent on contemporary college campuses.” Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh, in “We’re Losing Our Minds,” conclude that far too many college graduates can’t “think critically and creatively, speak and write cogently and clearly, solve problems, comprehend complex issues, accept responsibility and accountability, take the perspective of others, or meet the expectations of employers.”

The debate about the purpose of education ignores the elephant in the classroom. We have wrapped up our schools in rote memorization, low-level testing, and misguided accountability — preventing them from achieving any real purpose. It’s a fool’s errand to debate whether students are better off memorizing and forgetting Plato’s categorization of the three parts of a human’s soul, the quadratic equation, or the definition of the Cost of Goods Sold. If classroom “learning” is a mirage, it doesn’t matter whether it’s based on “The Odyssey,” a biology textbook, AP History flashcards, or a phone book.

At this point, a part of me felt like declaring education to be our domestic equivalent of Iraq. Maybe I’d be better off going back to my original travel-and-bad-golf plan. But, actually, I was inspired. Why? I was finding the most amazing rays of hope — schools offering powerful learning experiences. I realized moving our schools forward can happen, since we know what to do. Greatness is happening daily across our country, often in schools with scant financial resources. Our challenge is that these innovations are isolated, when they need to be ubiquitous.

The United States now has more than 500 “Deeper Learning” schools, most in our nation’s poorest communities. Clustered into a dozen networks, these schools aren’t “cookie-cutter” replicas of each other. But in their own creative ways, they deliver exceptional learning based on shared principles:

• self-directed learning
• a sense of purpose and authenticity in student experiences
• trust in teachers to teach to their passions and expertise
• a focus on essential skills (collaboration, communication, creativity, critical analysis)
• teachers as coaches, mentors, and advisers, not as lecturers
• lots of project-based challenges and learning
• public display of meaningful student work

Many focus on project-based learning (PBL), a bland phrase for a powerful approach to learning. One PBL leader, High Tech High in San Diego, now includes a dozen schools spanning K through 12, and offers its own graduate school of education. Curiously, out of 1,400 schools of education in our country training our next generation of K12 teachers, only two are integral to a K=12 school. In walking the halls of HTH (and they get more than 3,000 visitors each year), I observed a school experience that doesn’t look anything like what’s taking place today in most U.S. grade 7-16 classrooms. I felt real urgency in helping more people see the power of this pedagogy.

When it comes to PBL, two school networks are scaling rapidly with exceptional results — the New Tech Network and Expeditionary Learning. Both provide training for teachers along with a vetted curriculum, and cost-effectively … [more]
unschooling  deschooling  education  pedagogy  schools  us  2015  projectbasedlearning  learning  howwelearn  internships  apprenticeships  collaboration  communication  creativity  criticalthinking  tcsnmy  thefutureproject  bigpicturelearning  hightechhigh  mostlikelytosucceed  success  teaching  trust  mentoring  mentors  self-directed  self-directedlearning  richardarum  josiparoksa  ericmazur  bureaucracy  teddintersmith  purpose  schooling  schooliness  howweteach  curriculum  anationatrisk  williamderesiewicz 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Education Outrage: Reading is no way to learn
"This is a column that attacks reading. No one attacks reading. Let’s just assume I am crazy and push on.

Reading is a pretty recent idea in human history. It hasn’t worked out. It has given us some pretty good things, like literature, for example, or the possibility of communicating with my audience right now. But these things will be going away soon, and good riddance.

For years, I was an advisor to the Chairman of The Board of Encyclopedia Britannica. My job was to eat dinner with him every few months. At each dinner he asked me if there would still be books in five years. I said that there would be except there wouldn’t be his book. “Encyclopedias will disappear” I asserted.

I was thinking about this on a business call the other day. The man I was speaking with was concerned with how training was done at his very large engineering firm. He was rightly worried about “death by Power Point.” He used as an example of what he wanted to build people who learn to change a tire by changing one and then went on to describe quite accurately how we learn in such situations (by practice was the point, something you can’t do in Power Point.) But, he started his explanation by saying the first step in tire changing would be to get out the instruction manual on how to change a tire and read it.

I said that I had never actually read an instruction manual and that they haven’t actually been around for very long in human history. When a young boy wanted to learn to hunt lions he didn’t read the instruction manual, nor did he take a class. Throughout human history we have learned by watching someone older than ourselves, trying to copy that person, trying to be part of the team, and then trying things for yourself, and asking for help when we have failed. It is not that complicated. This is what learning has always looked like. And then, someone invented instruction manuals and we all forgot what we knew about learning. We replaced human mentors by Power Point lectures and asking by reading.

Great. And we wonder why we have trouble teaching people to do complex skills. There is nothing difficult about it. When you need to try to accomplish something that you want to accomplish, you need to have someone who knows how to do those things watch over you and you need to have someone whose work you can observe and copy. You need to be able to try and fail and you need to be able to practice. Reading doesn’t come up.

When I say things like this it makes people nuts. The other day I had a conversation with a woman in which I asserted that no learning takes place without conversation. She objected and said that she could look up something in Wikipedia any time she wanted and learn something that way.

No I said. You can’t. She was flabbergasted.

First, let’s ask why Wikipedia exists. In part, it exists because Encyclopedia Britannica couldn’t keep up. But also, it exists because we live a in a world where we don’t know whom to ask. I get asked nearly every day what certain words mean or what certain ideas are about. I am asked because the people I am interacting with know I might know and know that I am always happy to teach. But mostly I am asked because people know that I give quick short answers to their questions. When you have someone to ask, you ask. Reading is the alternative when there is no one to ask.

Let’s assume you always had available at your disposal a panel of experts who could be asked any questions you needed to ask. Would you ever read? (That panel is coming soon.) This morning I had a medical question. There was no one to ask. So I started to read. But this is rarely anyone’s first alternative.

The second problem with the “I can always look it up” model is simply this: You won’t remember what you read. Now we have had a lot of practice at attempting to remember what we read. That practice is called school. We read. We study. We memorize. We take tests. And we are somehow all convinced that we have remembered what we read.

Every year I would ask my students on the first day of class at Yale and Northwestern if they could pass the tests they took last year, right now. No one ever thought they could. They studied. They listened. They memorized. And then they forgot. We don’t learn by reading nor do we learn by listening.

We do learn by talking. Assuming we are talking with someone who is more or less our equal and has ideas not identical to ours, we learn by challenging them and ourselves to think hard. We mull ideas. We try out ideas. Even after a good conversation, it is hard to remember what we were talking about. If we do remember it, it means we were changed by that conversation in some way. Something we believed we now have a different perspective on. And we have enabled practice. Practicing talking is like practicing any physical skill. You won’t learn to hit a baseball unless you repeatedly hit one over years of practice. The same true of ideas or facts. Students can temporarily memorize facts but if they don't use them again they will forget them. We need to practice what we know until we are barely aware that we know it, until what we know becomes instinct. We don’t know how we talk for example, but we can talk, because we learned how to talk and practice it every day.

Our world has gotten obsessed with reading. Every entrance exam is at least half about reading. People one up each other by citing what books they have read. If you haven’t read one they think is important they can look down on you. (But, it is actually unlikely they remember much from the actual book. They might remember what they were thinking or talking about after reading the book.) This is the modern era. Things have been like this since the invention of texts. Lecturing followed the invention of texts (so the text could be read to you). But this is all going away soon. Socrates noted this in discussing the invention of reading and writing:

“For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.” (Phaedrus 274c-275b)

Reading is going away. Books are going away. There are already better ways of disseminating knowledge. But the schools are difficult to change. Training is difficult to change. People who use the internet can’t imagine a life without the tools that are on there now. But there are new tools coming.

The main advantage of reading is that we can skip around. We skim rather than read. It is hard to skim when someone is talking. And then one day, maybe it won’t be."
via:willrichardson  reading  rogerschank  talking  mentoring  mentors  communication  howwelearn  learning  schools  education  thinking  2015  howweread 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Jean Rhodes - Effective Mentorship Through Shared Purpose and Interest | Connected Learning
"Dr. Jean Rhodes is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston where she serves as Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring. She has devoted her career to understanding the role of intergenerational relationships in the lives of disadvantaged youth. Her interests include mentoring relationships, risk and protective factors in adolescent development, emerging adulthood, preventive interventions, and the role of intergenerational relationships in digital media and learning. Dr. Rhodes is also Principal Investigator of the Connected Learning Research Network project, The Affinity Project, which draws on analysis of youth mentoring programs in order to explore the development of youth interests and the role of shared interest in forging close inter-generational relationships."



"(3:53) The reason that mentorship is so central to the connected learning model is because so much of learning occurs in context of relationships. And when kids are pursuing their interests and going deeper into a topic, having a more advanced thinker...to help them scaffold that interest can be key to whether they go deeper into it or move away from it."
mentoring  mentors  mentorship  teaching  learning  connectedlearning  howwelearn  howweteach  education  jeanrhodes  via:lizette  2015 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The Sixth Stage of Grief is Retro-Computing — The Message — Medium
"Imagine having, in your confused adolescence, the friendship of an older, avuncular man who is into computers, a world-traveling photographer who would occasionally head out to, like, videotape the Dalai Lama for a few weeks, then come back and and listen to every word you said while you sat on his porch. A generous, kind person who spoke openly about love and faith and treated people with respect."



"A year after the Amiga showed up—I was 13—my life started to go backwards. Not forever, just for a while. My dad left, money was tight. My clothes were the ones my dad left behind, old blouse-like Oxfords in the days of Hobie Cat surfwear. I was already big and weird, and now I was something else. I think my slide perplexed my peers; if anything they bullied me less. I heard them murmuring as I wandered down the hall.

I was a ghost and I had haunts: I vanished into the computer. I had that box of BBS floppies. One after another I’d insert them into the computer and examine every file, thousands of files all told. That was how I pieced together the world. Second-hand books and BBS disks and trips to the library. I felt very alone but I’ve since learned that it was a normal American childhood, one millions of people experienced.

Often—how often I don’t remember—I’d go over to Tom’s. I’d share my techniques for rotating text in Deluxe Paint, show him what I’d gleaned from my disks. He always had a few spare computers around for generating title sequences in videos, and later for editing, and he’d let me practice with his videocameras. And he would listen to me.

Like I said: Avuncular. He wasn’t a father figure. Or a mother figure. He was just a kind ear when I needed as many kind ears as I could find. I don’t remember what I said; I just remember being heard. That’s the secret to building a network. People want to be heard. God, life, history, science, books, computers. The regular conversations of anxious kids. His students would show up, impossibly sophisticated 19-year-old men and women, and I’d listen to them talk as the sun went down. For years. A world passed over that porch and I got to watch and participate even though I was still a boy.

I constantly apologized for being there, for being so young and probably annoying, and people would just laugh at me. But no one put me in my place. People touched me, hugged me, told me about books to read and movies to watch. I was not a ghost.

When I graduated from high school I went by to sit on the porch and Tom gave me a little brown teddy bear. You need to remember, he said, to be a kid. To stay in touch with that part of yourself.

I did not do this."



"Technology is What We Share

Technology is what we share. I don’t mean “we share the experience of technology.” I mean: By my lights, people very often share technologies with each other when they talk. Strategies. Ideas for living our lives. We do it all the time. Parenting email lists share strategies about breastfeeding and bedtime. Quotes from the Dalai Lama. We talk neckties, etiquette, and Minecraft, and tell stories that give us guidance as to how to live. A tremendous part of daily life regards the exchange of technologies. We are good at it. It’s so simple as to be invisible. Can I borrow your scissors? Do you want tickets? I know guacamole is extra. The world of technology isn’t separate from regular life. It’s made to seem that way because of, well…capitalism. Tribal dynamics. Territoriality. Because there is a need to sell technology, to package it, to recoup the terrible investment. So it becomes this thing that is separate from culture. A product.

I went looking for the teddy bear that Tom had given me, the reminder to be a child sometimes, and found it atop a bookshelf. When I pulled it down I was surprised to find that it was in a tiny diaper.

I stood there, ridiculous, a 40-year-old man with a diapered 22-year-old teddy bear in my hand. It stared back at me with root-beer eyes.

This is what I remembered right then: That before my wife got pregnant we had been trying for kids for years without success. We had considered giving up.

That was when I said to my wife: If we do not have children, we will move somewhere where there is a porch. The children who need love will find the porch. They will know how to find it. We will be as much parents as we want to be.

And when she got pregnant with twins we needed the right-sized doll to rehearse diapering. I went and found that bear in an old box.

I was handed that toy, sitting on Tom’s porch, in 1992. A person offering another person a piece of advice. Life passed through that object as well, through the teddy bear as much as through the operating systems of yore.

Now that I have children I can see how tuned they are to the world. Living crystals tuned to all manner of frequencies. And how urgently they need to be heard. They look up and they say, look at me. And I put my phone away.

And when they go to bed, protesting and screaming, I go to mess with my computers, my old weird imaginary emulated computers. System after system. I open up these time capsules and look at the thousands of old applications, millions of dollars of software, but now it can be downloaded in a few minutes and takes up a tiny portion of a hard drive. It’s all comically antiquated.

When you read histories of technology, whether of successes or failures, you sense the yearning of people who want to get back into those rooms for a minute, back to solving the old problems. How should a window open? How should the mouse look? What will people want to do, when we give them these machines? Who wouldn’t want to go back 20 years—to drive again into the office, to sit before the whiteboard in a beanbag chair, in a place of warmth and clarity, and give it another try?

Such a strange way to say goodbye. So here I am. Imaginary disks whirring and screens blinking as I visit my old haunts. Wandering through lost computer worlds for an hour or two, taking screenshots like a tourist. Shutting one virtual machine down with a sigh, then starting up another one. But while these machines run, I am a kid. A boy on a porch, back among his friends."
paulford  memory  memories  childhood  neoteny  play  wonder  sharing  obituaries  technology  history  sqeak  amiga  textcraft  plan9  smalltalk-80  smalltalk  mac  1980s  1990s  1970s  xerox  xeroxalto  texteditors  wordprocessors  software  emulators  emulations  2014  computers  computing  adolescence  listening  parenting  adults  children  mentors  macwrite  howwelearn  relationships  canon  caring  love  amigaworkbench  commodore  aegisanimator  jimkent  vic-20  commodore64  1985  andywarhol  debbieharry  1987  networks  porches  kindness  humility  lisp  windows3.1  microsoft  microsoftpaint  capitalism  next  openstep  1997  1992  stevejobs  objectivec  belllabs  xeroxparc  inria  doom  macos9  interfacebuilder 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Pay it forward — Medium
"For years I’ve maintained a personal credo that I’ll give pretty much any person starting out in our field 30 minutes of my time, if they have the wherewithal to come and ask for it. (Don’t all ask at once, now.)

Usually that means a phone call or an email exchange. Sometimes I’ll meet for coffee, given my schedule and availability. I certainly don’t feel compelled to help out every person who comes my way looking for advice, and I tailor my response to the query (a thoughtful email gets a better reply than a tweet) but I make a genuine effort to say “yes” to people who are just starting out.

A few years ago I described this policy to a colleague. I remember him saying “I would never do that, it doesn’t seem like it would be worth it.”

Not everything in our professional lives is a transaction, scrutinized and evaluated against how much it costs us, how much someone should pay. Not every teaching relationship must be formalized—a mentoring opportunity, a coach, an internship. Not every investment of time has to be “worth it.” Sometimes you just have a brief conversation with someone because—why not? You never know what will come of it.

I can’t thank the guy who took the time to meet me for coffee. But I can pay it forward by trying to help other people in a small, vanishingly insignificant way. And if some day, I help someone in a way that changes the very course of their life? I might never even know.

The payback I would want isn’t one billable hour or a free sandwich or even their grateful thanks. I don’t even care if they remember my name. I’d rather they pick up the phone and talk to some future 23-year-old when she asks."
karenmcgrane  2014  mentoring  mentors  kindness  payitforward  conversation  intangibles  audiencesofone 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Overflowing Froth of Realness: Iowa BIG | ThinkThankThunk
"It’s been slow, especially because I’m used to running my own little kingdom of a classroom, but Iowa BIG is bearing the fruit of a community-focused, project-based model.

The dream was to create a schooling experience with a seamless connection and sometimes blurred difference between who’s doing the learning and who’s doing the supporting of that learning. As I watch my students move out into the community to pitch their projects and seek support from local experts and interested parties, I can’t help but beam with pride.

I woke up this morning to an inbox full of reports and evidence of community building that I had no direct control of: students telling me that they met with local counselors and psychologists that have steered a project on mental health in a totally new direction; I didn’t do that. 300 people gathering to support a student’s long-term study of gender equality this Friday. I had such a small role in that.

Community Building, Inc.

It all comes down to the view of community building as a profession. I was brought into that fold by a local media company; their constant drum beat being that a built community, a connected network where the central node becomes less and less so, is vital to the success of schools, businesses, and the ability for residents to thrive.

I have to admit I didn’t get it at first… So, we should, um, have hang-outs at coffee shops? Sure, but what should the conversation be? You don’t get to plan that, but you do get to support it and help drive it. But don’t these Luddites have a complete lack of understanding of my beautiful vision for education? No/Yes, but they’re integral in creating a vision for education that’s more doable and effective than your “beautiful vision.”

At Iowa BIG, students, faculty, and, most importantly, the community at large pitch projects into our pool. The students then pull from that pool know already that the project matters to someone. The teaching and learning of the students overflows beyond any individual teacher so quickly, it’s almost amazing that we’ve intentionally left the community out of education for so long. Sure, parents support sporting events, and some donate money to the schools, but actual involvement in the educational process has been becoming more and more divorced.

Why else would we have such complicated conversations about grading? I know I’ve spilled some serious digital ink on the subject. If Wormeli is right, that grades are supposed to be communicative over time, instead of summative of a time, then why wouldn’t we carry that naturally beyond the preposterously reductionist practice of grading directly into instruction and mentoring?

As a teacher, my only real talent is the experience I have of working with young people. I can take the smallest tell and imagine what misconception or hang-up may be preventing that project/student from moving forward. That’s my profession. I am not so good at generating a thousand project ideas for every student and having all those ideas hit the mark. Many teachers suffer needlessly over this ineffable hubris that has been placed on the teaching profession: somehow, student interest and buy-in must stem from the teacher or else, I must be a bad teacher.

That’s impossible! For every student!? Impossible!

Yet, I see burned out teachers every May wishing for a break. I then see those same idealists stand up with a firmed chin in August to try it again. You know what they say about repetition…

Without creating a network of interconnected communicative nodes, all dedicated to the education of the network’s students, bringing them into how the community gets work done and needs work done, you’ll never achieve the individualized instruction that everyone claims to want. You’ll never attain the quandrant-D-OMG-engaging-real-world-real-real-World lessons everyone’s trying to design. The school budgets aren’t big enough, but a symbiotic, intentionally-built relationship between education, business, nonprofit, government, and so on?

That’ll do it.

Schools that are Just Killing It:

Blue Valley CAPS [http://www.bvcaps.org/s/1403/start.aspx ]
Northland CAPS [http://www.nkcschools.org/northland-caps ]
Makerspace@Lakewood City Schools [http://www.makerspacelcs.com/ ]
Eagle Rock, CO [http://www.eaglerockschool.org/ ]
Iowa BIG (obvi) [http://iowabig.org/ ]"
shawncornally  iowa  community  mentors  mentorships  generalists  teaching  education  openstudioproject  lcproject  learning  relationships  networks  explodingschool  iowabig  bluevalleycaps  nortlandcaps  eaglerockschool  control  connections  2014  interconnectedness  realworld  projectbasedlearning  pbl  interconnected  interconnectivity 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Design tutorials: the basics | SB129
Within design education, there’s little shared wisdom about how to conduct a tutorial. The tutorial is the bread and butter of design learning; the main pedagogic object of interaction. But we, the design community, rarely share the nuts and bolts of how to navigate and steer a student through a successful project; how to encourage, provoke, inspire and lead a designer into new and fascinating territories.

In this post, I’d like to outline a few basics. It’s me, stating the obvious, in what I consider good pedagogic practice; how best to support, guide and get the most out of students and their work.

I believe the things I’ve learnt over the last ten or so years are applicable to other disciplines and within the professional context of design. Whether as a Creative Director or a Design Manager, the following points are a good place to start when it comes to directing creativity;

Listening is Key

At the heart of a good tutor is their ability to listen. Understanding ideas, position and intent allows for more connected, meaningful feedback. Asking questions to clarify is key to aiding your understanding. Sometimes students take a long time to get to the salient point, they can skirt around the topic due to a lack of confidence, confusion or perception of expectation, so be patient, let them ‘talk out’, only respond when you understand what’s in front of you. Wait until nerves die down to get to the heart of the matter, then you’ll be in the best position to advise.

Ownership and embodiment

It’s all to common for design tutors to try to design vicariously – to direct a student in a way that they would do the project. This, in my opinion, is a flawed approach. It has a history in the master/apprentice model of education; watch, copy, admire, repeat (where learning is a happy side effect). However, it rarely allows the student to feel ownership over the content and learning experience.

Within Art and Design, intellectual ownership is a tricky subject to navigate. The messy and complex network of ideas become distributed across a number of different references, conversations and people, the genesis of an idea is difficult to locate. Tutors that have a ‘that was my idea’ attitude rarely survive or remain happy and motivated. Intellectual generosity is an essential quality of a good educator. Having the humility to understand and value that the adoption of ideas ‘as their own’ is an important part of learning – it allows for the embodiment of the ideas into the identity of the designer.

Mutual exploration

However, in the age of the Internet, the tutor as gateway to all knowledge is long gone. The ability (or illusion) of a Professor having read ‘everything’ in their discipline is a distant memory. When knowledge is acquired and disseminated in such a radically different manner, it calls for educational revolution. Sadly, the rise of the MOOC isn’t the revolution I was hoping for.

The abolishment of levels and the flattening of hierarchies are at the heart of how I believe education needs to change. Breaking the often fictitious boundaries between teaching and research to allow for the mutual exploration of ideas is a fundamentally different model of education. Sadly, due to financial scalability, this remains relevant only to an elite. But as a tutor, see your conversations with students as a space to explore ideas, be the learner as much as the teacher. Reframe higher education away from the hierarchies of expertise towards mutual exploration of the distant boundaries of your discipline.

Expanding possibility space

It’s important to remember that a tutorial should be expanding the cone of possibility for the student. They should leave, not with answers, but with an expanded notion, a greater ambition of what they were trying to achieve. It’s important to be ambitious and set tough challenges for your students, otherwise boredom or (heavens forbid) laziness can take over. Most student’s I’ve met love being thrown difficult challenges, most rise to the occasion, all learn a great deal. In order to move towards the goal of a self determined learner, the student should control the decisions of the design process. If you’re telling them what to design, not opening up possibilities and highlighting potential problems, you’re probably missing something.

Understand motivation, vulnerability and ‘learning style’

Every student we teach, learn in a different way, have different hopes and desires, react to feedback in a different way. Navigating and ‘differentiating’ these differences is really difficult. Some tutors take a distanced intellectual approach, where the content in front of them is a puzzle that needs to be solved, this is the classic personae of the academic, distanced, emotionally arid, intellectually rigorous. But this doesn’t alway mean a good learning experience. Other tutors operate on a more psychological level; the try to understand the emotional context of the situation and adapt their advise accordingly. Whatever happens, understand you have a individual in front of you, they have lives outside of the studio, they are going through all manner of personal shit that will effect their attention and engagement. They come from different cultures, different educational backgrounds, so their response to your advice is going to shift like the wind, be adaptive, read body language and don’t go in like a bulldozer (I have definitely done this in the past!).

In terms of learning style, without this becoming a paper on pedagogy, understand that your advice need to be tailored to different students. Some (a lot) need to learn through a physical engagement with their material, others needs to have an intellectual structure in place in order to progress. Throughout a project, course or programme, try to understand this and direct your advice accordingly.

Agreed direction

Tutorials shouldn’t just be general ‘chats’ about the project or world, they should give direction, tasks and a course of action. I have a rule: Don’t end the tutorial until you’ve both agreed a direction. This can be pretty tough to manage in terms of time, as I get more experienced, I get better at reaching an agreement within my tutorial time allocation, but I still often can overrun by hours. The important thing to work towards is the idea that you both understand the project, and you both understand how it could move. End the tutorial when this been reached.

Read and respond

It’s really important, in design, to respond to what is in front of you. To actual STUFF. It’s far too easy to let students talk without showing evidence of their work. This is a dangerous game. Words can deceive, hide and misrepresent action. Dig into sketchbooks, ask to see work they’ve done. If they haven’t done anything, ask them to go away and do something to represent their ideas and thoughts. Production is key to having a productive tutorial. Only through responding to actual material evidence of action can a project move forward. At its worst, students can develop the skill to talk about stuff, making it exciting in your mind, but fail to produce the project in the end. But this isn’t the main reason for this section, it’s more about the ideas of design residing in the material production, not just the explication. You can tell me what you believe something does or means, but it’s only when it’s in front of me that I can fully grasp this.

The art of misinterpretation

Another reason why it’s important to dig into sketchbooks and look at work, is that looking at something and trying to work out what it means – the space of interpretation – is an important space of learning. By interpreting and indeed misinterpreting work, you and your student can find out things about the project. If the student intended one thing and you understand something else by it, you’ve at least learnt that it was poorly (visually and materially) communicated. But the exciting stuff happens when misinterpretation acts as a bridge between your internal mental processes (with all references etc) and your students. Your reading of a drawing acts as a way to generate a new idea or direction. This is when there is genuine creative collaboration.

References

One of the roles of a tutor is to point students towards relevant and inspiring resources. In the age of the internet, when student’s roam the halls of tumblr and are constantly fed inspiration by their favourite design blogs, the use, meaning and impact of tutor driven references has changed. Be focussed with reading, ensure students know why they are looking at a particular reference and make sure that you contextualise the work within the ideas that they have."
mattward  2013  teaching  pedagogy  cv  howweteach  howwelearn  design  art  tutotials  canon  listening  ownership  understanding  interpretation  misinterpretation  embodiment  making  exploration  apprenticeships  hierarchy  hierarchies  possibilityspace  motivation  vulnerability  feedback  constructivecriticism  context  empathy  conversation  audiencesofone  differentiation  contextualization  process  documentation  reflection  reggioemilia  emergentcurriculum  evidence  assessment  critique  communication  collaboration  mentoring  mentorship  mentors  response  action  direction  mutualaid 
april 2014 by robertogreco
The Promise of Deschooling (Matt Hern) | The Anarchist Library
"I believe that deschooling represents a fundamental piece in the construction of an ecological society. To resist compulsory schooling is to resist the other-control of our lives at levels that dig at the very root of family and community at a daily, visceral level. Real communities can and are being built around an opposition to monopoly schooling all across the continent. The most compelling of these movements are those which are rejecting not only government schools, but the cultural and pedagogical assumptions of schooling and education themselves. It is easily possible to envision a society where schools are transformed into community learning centres that fade into a localist fabric, and are replaced by a vast array of learning facilities and networks, specific training programs, apprenticeships, internships and mentorships, public utilities like libraries, museums and science centres. The simplistic monoculture of compulsory schooling is abandoned in favour of innumerable learning projects, based on innumerable visions of human development, and children and adults alike are able to design, manage and evaluate the pace, style and character of their own lives and learning. The implications of schools reverberate throughout our culture, and it is plainly clear that an ecological society cannot bear the burden that schools place on our kids, families and communities. They are crude constructions for a world that has been exposed as unethical and unsustainable. Deschooling represents a tangible and comprehensive site for a disciplined renunciation of centralized control, and a transformative vision, not only of personal autonomy, but of genuine social freedom."
matthern  deschooling  unschooling  1998  anarchism  education  learning  apprenticeships  internships  mentorship  mentors  community 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Heart Grows Smarter - NYTimes.com
"It’s not that the men who flourished had perfect childhoods. Rather, as Vaillant puts it, “What goes right is more important than what goes wrong.” The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen.

In case after case, the magic formula is capacity for intimacy combined with persistence, discipline, order and dependability. The men who could be affectionate about people and organized about things had very enjoyable lives."

"Over the past half-century or so, American culture has become more attuned to the power of relationships. Masculinity has changed, at least a bit.

The so-called Flynn Effect describes the rise in measured I.Q. scores over the decades. Perhaps we could invent something called the Grant Effect, on the improvement of mass emotional intelligence over the decades. This gradual change might be one of the greatest contributors to progress and well-being that we’ve experienced in our lifetimes."
dependability  order  discipline  persistence  whatmatters  leadership  happiness  life  aging  georgevaillant  grantstudy  change  psychology  culture  2012  emotions  success  responsiveclassroom  response  socialemotionallearning  socialemotional  intimacy  friendship  mentorship  mentoring  mentors  emotionalintelligence  tcsnmy  relationships  davidbrooks 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Innovation in Education | Fast Company
"Nikhil Goyal, student and author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student's Assessment of School:

1. Make cities our classrooms. … projects, apprenticeships, working with mentors, and traveling … community should be our curriculum …

2. Swap pedagogy for andragogy. We need to switch from pedagogy (teacher-focused) to andragogy (adult-leading). In this model of education, children have control, they are motivated intrinsically, and the curriculum is problem- rather than content-orientated. We need to have young people become the captains of their learning. …

3. Hike teacher pay and end market-based rewards. …

Gever Tulley, founder, Brightworks and the Tinkering School:

1. Focus on microschools: Schools don't have to be big. The hyper-local micro-school can compete on a financial basis while delivering a more engaging learning experience.

2. Make room for alternative schools. …

3. Treat education as a regular practice like exercise, not as a phase. …"
pbl  projectbasedlearning  projects  making  tinkering  tinkeringschool  brightworks  pedagogy  process  practice  practices  howwelearn  mentorship  mentorships  mentors  mentoring  apprenticeships  urbanism  urban  cities  cityasclassroom  andragogy  alted  alternative  deschooling  unschooling  2012  teaching  georgeparker  michellerhee  gevertulley  cv  schools  education  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  nikhilgoyal 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Field Study | Don't Be Wise. Be Relentless.
"There are no tricks of any trade. There is volume and consistency. There is kindness. That’s it. There might be a few people out there that aren’t good and maybe were never meant to get good, no matter how much work they put in (and I’m not sure that’s true). But you’re not one of those people. You found something that you are pretty good at, and that you care a ton about. That gives you options to create any kind of career you want. Really. Honestly.

Start now by chasing opportunities. Be relentless. Write. Read. Make. Mimic (but credit your sources or course). Just don’t buy into any advice that tells you to be loyal, pay dues, bide your time. Those are truthy sounding old-time wisdom that has no real substance."

[Related: http://muledesign.com/2012/09/i-want-to-start-a-company-right-out-of-school/ and http://www.quora.com/David-Cole/Posts/Startups-and-Studios ]
cv  practice  experience  mikemonteiro  payingdues  hazing  consistency  volume  doing  making  learning  mentoring  mentors  mentorship  advice  careersm  startups  design  2012  kindnes  creativity 
september 2012 by robertogreco
What does it take to become an expert at anything? - Barking up the wrong tree
"It's quantity and quality. You need tons of time spent training but it has to be the right kind of practice. Just showing up is not enough, you need to continually challenge yourself with the right kind of effort. "Deliberate Practice" is a specifically defined term. It involves goal setting, quick feedback, and countless drills to improve skills with an eye on mastery. It is not "just showing up" and, plain and simple, it's not fun."

* You want practice to be as close to the real challenge as possible. Want to be a boxer? Hitting the bag is not enough. You need to be in a ring, against opponents, like a real match.

* Don't be passive. Testing yourself is far better than reviewing.

* Practice is not just repetition. Be ruthlessly critical and keep trying to improve on the constituent elements of the skill.

* Alone time. Top experts are more likely to be introverts…"

"Have Grit… Find a Great Mentor… Focus on the Negative… Focus on Improvement… Fast Feedback… It's Worth It"
persistence  experts  grit  correction  repetition  imitation  demonstration  explanation  mentors  mindset  mistakes  cv  perfectionism  mastery  skillbuilding  introverts  education  deschooling  unschooling  glvo  prototyping  howwelearn  feedback  learning  practice  via:tealtan  thisandthat  2012  expertise  mentoring  improvement  perseverence  makerstime  makertime  makersschedule 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Pendulums, Tea, and Jack Cheng | One Skinnyj
"I wanted the lack of employment & stable income to motivate me to do something."

"…balance implies movement. A more appropriate instrument would be a pendulum—constantly swinging back & forth. W/ a scale, stasis is desirable, but w/ a pendulum, stasis is death."

"We have a limited supply of attention every day & thus a sweet spot for novel experiences. Too little novelty & you’re bored. Too much & you’re overwhelmed. But with the right amount, you’re learning & growing."

"The right team to me consists of a group of people who are simultaneously mentor & mentee, skilled at certain things & eager to learn about others."

"I love learning new things, & I’m continually improving myself. I feel like I’m experiencing the world closer to the way I did when I was a kid, the result of unlearning some…biases & tendencies…"

"I’m a big proponent of journaling…it builds self-awareness, which is always the first step to improvement…Honest journaling helps you face your own fear & neglect."
memberly  motivation  howwegrow  howwelearn  entrepreneurship  distrupto  employment  attention  distraction  newness  travel  yearoff  stasis  growing  growth  learning  unlearning  tendencies  biases  self-improvement  neglect  fear  self-awareness  noticing  novelty  howwework  working  groups  mentees  mentors  movement  balance  pendulums  stability  chaos  reflection  journals  journaling  2011  interviews  seepster  tea  jackcheng 
july 2012 by robertogreco
A History Of Violence Edge Master Class 2011 | Conversation | Edge
"There are studies showing that violence is more common when people are confined to one pecking order, and all of their social worth depends on where they are in that hierarchy, whereas if they belong to multiple overlapping groups, they can always seek affirmations of worth elsewhere. For example, if I do something stupid when I’m driving, and someone gives me the finger and calls me an asshole, it’s not the end of the world: I think to myself, I’m a tenured professor at Harvard. On the other hand, if status among men in the street was my only source of worth in life, I might have road rage and pull out a gun. Modernity comprises a lot of things, and it’s hard to tease them apart. But I suspect that when you’re not confined to a village or a clan, and you can seek your fortunes in a wide world, that is a pacifying force for exactly that reason."
history  violence  psychology  stevenpinker  hierarchy  humanities  philosophy  society  brain  mind  murder  crime  war  genocide  democracy  hatecrimes  race  class  time  scheduling  mentors  mentoring  doing  teamwork 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Listen, Learn, Share: My Vision for Education [Another "vision of the future of education" that approximates what we've been up to at TCSNMY. Now to eliminate grade levels completely.]
"...implementation of apprenticeship model. Grade levels where EVERY student has to move up at end of 9-10 month cycle do not exist. Not to mention fact that if student isn't able to move up at end of cycle he has to wait another 12 months for opportunity to move up again. Instead of grade levels, students just move to next topic/skill.

The activities would center either on completion of a project or solving a problem that requires use of current & topics being studied. People, like parents, w/ real live jobs relating to these issues can serve as mentors, guest speakers, & knowledge resources. Students would be able to choose which problem or project they wish to complete based on their interests.

Gone also are the needs for standardized testing & various abuses of proficiency data relating to teacher & school evaluations. Are students growing? ...moving forward? If not, why?... Community is built into the school. Students help one another. Collaboration is encouraged..."
education  future  tcsnmy  lcproject  cv  schools  learning  projectbasedlearning  collaboration  community  progressive  teaching  customization  abritrary  gradelevels  standardizedtesting  proficiency  problemsolving  apprenticeships  mentoring  mentors  pbl 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Facebook and the Enterprise: Part 5: Knowledge Management – confused of calcutta
"Knowledge management is not really about content, it is about creating an environment where learning takes place. Maybe we spend too much time trying to create an environment where teaching takes place, rather than focus on learning."

[This + part 6 + http://bit.ly/b04OaH have me thinking about Tumblr and other online tools at TCSNMY, and how we use it to learn, model, and observe.]
knowledgemanagement  2007  jprangaswami  collaboration  learning  lifelonglearning  socialnetworking  facebook  knowledge  social  sharing  bookmarking  socialsoftware  tcsnmy  progressive  mentoring  time-shifted  place-shifted  searchability  archivability  retrievability  retrieval  search  transparency  mentorships  mentors  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  learningbydoing  letmeshowyou  modeling  lcproject  online  internet  web  hierarchy  experience  enterprise  business  organizations  leadership  management  administration  toshare  topost  mentorship 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Bennington College: [Quantum Leap] Mentoring programs reconnect public school students to their education
"A Bennington College student's education has curiosity at its core. What are you passionate about? What do you want to know? How will you act on your ideas?
Ten years ago, two College faculty members—both professional mediators—began to think about the high school dropout rate in Vermont (at the time, twenty percent). They began to think about a different approach to truancy and dropout prevention. And they wondered what might happen if public school students were given the chance to connect with their education in the same way that Bennington College students do.

So began the experiment of Quantum Leap. ... The learning plan invites students to hone in on their interests in an academic way, making them active partners in their own education. Mentoring gives them one-on-one attention from someone who is passionate about education. Mediation bridges the gaps between students, schools, and families, while also giving them conflict resolution skills."
education  schools  interestdriven  studentdirected  projectbasedlearning  learning  change  reform  personallearning  tcsnmy  publicschools  mentoring  mentors  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  benniningtoncollege  pbl 
june 2009 by robertogreco
83 Master And Apprentices [from A Pattern Language]
[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20080206192611/http://www.ahartman.com/apl/patterns/apl083.htm ]

"The fundamental learning situation is one in which a person learns by helping someone who really knows what he is doing."



"Arrange the work in every workgroup, industry, and office, in such a way that work and learning go forward hand in hand. Treat every piece of work as an opportunity for learning. To this end, organize work around a tradition of masters and apprentices: and support this form of social organization with a division of the workspace into spatial clusters - one for each master and his apprentices where they can work and meet together."
christopheralexander  learning  change  deschooling  apprenticeships  work  reform  schools  lcproject  networks  social  society  apatternlanguage  unschooling  mentoring  mentors  decentralization  education 
july 2007 by robertogreco

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