The Herd of Elephants #diglitclass

Only once in my life did I come face to face with a real life elephant. They seem like such nice and peace giants and I would say they are. But when my six year old self saw one face to face, I was amazed (and slightly frightened) by how big they are! It just loomed overhead! That is where the old saying “the elephant in the room” came from. These are big issues that are looming in the background of a situation that everyone decides to ignore even though it is a huge problem. There are several “elephants” when it comes to the topic of education. Will Richardson discusses several of these in his article 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” You.

One of the biggest elephants that Richardson discusses is that “We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.” This is a huge deal. We as teacher spend so much time in the classroom teaching things that have little to no relevance to our students’ lives and that they will not even remember in a month. We should be focusing more on teaching and having students learn things that bring meaning to their lives and that they will remember and draw from in their future.

Another elephant that I find rather large is that “We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.” When I was in high school, I was extremely concerned about my grades. I had a slipping grade that was on the verge of a B. I went to my teacher and asked if there was any way to do extra credit or anything that would keep my grade an A. He got rather frustrated with my pestering and finally told me something I value to this day. He told me “Sydni, grades don’t matter. It won’t matter in five years if you got a B or an A in your history class.” There are many things that matter more than getting good grades in school. Living life to the fullest, learning things you are truly interested in, and having fun, are way more important than how well you could memorize dates and information. At the time, I was very mad at him for saying such a thing, but weeks later, I really began to understand what he meant and how he was right.

The last big elephant that I will discuss is that “We know (I think) that the system of education as currently constructed is not adequately preparing kids for what follows if and when they graduate.” Schools have been focusing so heavily on things like test scores that they have fallen away from what truly matters: teaching students what they need to know in order to succeed in the next step in their lives. Schools should bring back classes that teach life skills, such as cooking and financial planning. These things are inevitable in the future for students, so why not prepare them for it?

In conclusion, there are several looming elephants in the back of the classroom. I just hope we as teachers can move towards leading them out the door and back where they belong.

Innovation and Unlearning #diglitclass

I have definitely started thinking like an innovator both in my learning and life in general. I have had to come up with ideas on how to complete daily assignments that are left up to interpretation. I am beginning to really evaluate my past education and how I could teach in the future. Innovation in learning looks like students or people creating things and being the leader of their own learning. It is students of all ages questioning the known and paving the way on new and exciting ideas of their own. I hope to one day be an innovative educator such as George Couros. In his article, The Mindset of an Innovator, I especially like when he says, “I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask ‘what is best for learners?'” I hope to always ask this question when thinking about my teaching. Couros also has an open mind when it comes to different perspectives and how those can better everyone.

By participating in the independent learning project, I have unlearned the idea that all school and teaching comes from a teacher telling their students what to learn when and to what extent the learning is done. I was the one in charge of my own learning, setting up when and what I would learn. I have unlearned that schools are the best way to educate children. With the way school is run today, it no longer benefits all the students. It focuses on the wrong things. I still need to unlearn that the way schools are run today is the only option and me being a traditional teacher is the only way to impact my students. I need to learn about other types of school more in depth and how I could contribute. Will Richardson’s article on The Steep Unlearning Curve has several things that we need to unlearn in order to be innovative. “We need to unlearn the idea that every student needs to learn the same content when really what they need to learn is how to self-direct their own learning.” I think this is a very important thing for all teacher to unlearn. It shows that our students are all unique just like our classrooms. We all learn differently and we all do not need to know the same information. That would make life so boring, if everyone was the same. I think my favorite thing that Richardson says we should unlearn is this: “We need to unlearn the premise that real change can happen just by rethinking what happens inside the school walls and understand that education is now a community undertaking on many different levels.” The school systems today and how society views school will have to be completely flipped upside down in order to make big change happen.

I really learned a lot from this week’s module and it is changing my thoughts on how school or learning should function in the future.