How many times have we been told as students to put our phone away. I believe I had my phone taken away about a total of 5 times in high school. I think I did a damn good job at hiding it if you ask me. Technology in the classroom has always been “banned”. Except computer lab of course, but why is it that students cannot use their phones during class? Will they cheat? Of course! What makes it any better if we let them use computers with the same internet access and solutions available online? Many schools across the country are beginning to integrate technology in the classroom in a much more brilliant way than Oregon Trail. Before continuing reading, take a look at this article in the Pioneer Press about St. Paul Public Schools.
The article brings up a lot of good points. It talks a lot about technology and activity based learning for these Kindergarten students. Students at all ages need this type of activity based learning. It is most important at younger ages where students are not able to sit still like how the article calls “traditional” style learning. Our country is stuck in this strange idea that rigorous courses need repetition, practice, and memorization. I absolutely agree with practice. My current boss told me one day, “practice makes better.” I thought to myself, doesn’t practice make perfection? Before I could mutter a word she said “we can never reach perfection because we can always get better.” This idea of perfection can drive students deeper and deeper into a hole where they keep seeking something they will never reach. Now repetition is key, but it better be relevant repetition. Repetition can be closely related to memorization by continuing the same process with the same numbers and the same formula and so on. It is key to have repetition in order to bring the pieces of the puzzle together. What do I mean by this? In order to understand the large picture, students must understand what builds that picture. Students may be able to rip off the quadratic formula in some cheesy pop goes the weasel tune, but the question is, why are you using that formula? When students can verbalize the motives for concepts and explain to other student the reason why that particular concept exists then they (hopefully) understand why the pieces of the puzzle are arranged in a particular order.
Okay so I ranted a little off topic, but this video of Dr. Aaron Doering giving a TED talk will help bring us on track.
Yeah he’s pretty cool. He travels the world for something he calls adventure learning. Notice how Dr. Doering does not teach from the classroom. It would be absurd to say that the students he interacts with are not positively impacted. The Pioneer Press article talks about how students are able to dress as policemen and firefighters to help them learn more about their community.
“That’s how 5-year-olds learn, which is by exploring and playing. The (new) model lends itself to more student-directed than teacher-directed.” Vicki Turner, the district’s assistant director of early learning.
I believe that is what Dr. Doering is dedicating his life to achieve. A student-directed classroom will be much more engaging and much more beneficial for our society. Today, we need to make a change in our education. As a future teacher, I will need to be a part of this process. I may not see the end result and honestly I hope I don’t because our education system should be constantly changing to meet the needs of the youth.
Thank you for making it through my first post. I can’t promise that future postings will be longer or shorter. Hell, I can’t even decide when my next post will be. Stay tuned and follow me on Twitter @MichaelTKlein.