This small clip speaks so much to what I have learned this semester, and not just that, but the interesting fact that this study was actually shared IN CLASS during an observation. The students were in the process of learning about the brain and how it work during their science period. They learned about things such as neuroplasticity, neurons, synapases, axioms, dendrites, myelin sheaths, etc. While they went through the physical study in their sience period, in the team's other room (humanities), they were learning about psychology, and in that subject, particularly behavioral science. They talked and learned about classical conditioning, operant conditioning, growth mindset, and one of the most important things one can learn about... FAILURE!
Now the important thing to understand is the way in which this topic was approached in both classes. While some schools may prefer not to talk about it, or at least not much about it, failure is a very real part of life and must be addressed. But in my class, it wasn't just addressed: it was delved into head-on from the very first day. On the first day of class, my co-teacher told the students that what he expected from them this year was, first and foremost, to TAKE RISKS! Not only that, but he expected them to FAIL! As many would guess, the students didn't like that idea, and you could see it on their faces. They all had the same, or at least similar, thoughts: "Why would my teacher be expecting me to fail?" I was a little wary at first as well. Shouldn't a teacher be expecting his students to succeed? But then, he continued...
He said that what he meant is that failure isn't a "bad word." And many times in school, we see it in that light. Rather, "Failure is just another word for growing." Over in the science class, the other team teacher said something similar - "Your brain grows more and you learn more from failure than you do from success." This is not to say that success is a bad thing, but rather that taking risks and failing in school will help students learn a great amount more than anything a TEACHER can TEACH them. She shared with them this same study and the students were now more ready than before to take risks and even fail.
I eventually also added to this by telling the students my favorite story about Thomas Edison. When questioned about his 2,000 failures in creating a light bulb. Edison responded that he didn't fail 2,000 times to make a light bulb, he just found 2,000 ways how NOT to make a light bulb, but he only needed to find 1 way to make it work!
[Youcubed at Stanford]. (2016, April 25). TED Talk clip. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_skSkvuDXc&index=26&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp
The point of this is mainly a criticism of the way we do education today. Because we are living in a world where many of the higher-ups in education are coming from an age in which computers were not in the classroom. While computers and digital devices have now become ubiquitous, those in charge of educating are still trying to catch up to all the advancement s that have been made. One of the examples that Wesch shows is the same example as in one of his other speeches. There is a student holding up a scantron. Now growing up, I used to either love, or hate scantrons. Multiple choice or true/false tests are much easier to fake than a written test. Back at that time, I was concerned with one thing - passing the test. I was not concerned with learning, because at that time I was just told over and over again (even by teachers), "You just need to know this for the test. After the test you can forget it." Even back then, my lack of reason asked the question, "If that's true and I can just forget this... then why am I learning this?"
What this Video Points out is a problem within the educational arena in that we have not evolved with the times as quickly as we should have. We have nearly the entire collection of human knowledge out there on the web and how much are classes actually using it? Why are we still using textbooks from big companies (most of which the students won't read anyway) instead of going onto credible sites online, accessing primary documentation uploaded for viewing by the Library of Congress, finding real world studies to use in math, etc. Why is it that we are stifling use of this AMAZING resource we call, "The Internet."
True. There is a good amount that is not credible online. And this video points out one of these snags. The great thing about Wikipedia is that, when it was conceived, it grew very quickly because it was an online encyclopedia that ANYONE could add to... and edit. The problem came from the fact that ANYONE could add or EDIT the information. This made Wikipedia enter the "unreliable" category of sources found online. Now, while wikipedia has changed and evolved and now has entry checkers, it has gotten better and more reliable, but it is still not school worthy and this is understandable.
However, schools should be making the internet a more used resource. We learn from others and the more we discuss things, the more our brains grow and the more critically we begin to think. Let students blog, rather than write in a journal. Let students run a forum rather than a class discussion. Have student work posted online so that the world can see it and respond to it. That is how we learn and that is how we get better. Allow the children of the word to speak and watch how much more they learn from that.
Wesch, Michael. [Michael Wesch]. (2011, Jan 24). Rethinking Education. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xb5spS8pmE&index=16&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp.
I love listening to Rita Pierson. She's like the Teachers' Edition of Tony Robbins. He passion, zest, love, and caring shines through all the time and it is always great to see that in a teacher. In this video, she talks about how relationships are the number one thing that teachers need to learn. It is all about building relationships with the kids because, as she says, "Children don't learn from people they don't like!" I have known this to be 100% true... not just because I have witnessed it over time, but because I have experienced it. I had teachers that I despised and those were the same teachers that were they to collect a paycheck. They were the teachers that didn't want to answer questions. They were the teachers who couldn't wait to get away from the students! And, in my opinion, they were teachers that had no business calling themselves a teacher and had no business being in that classroom (the problem with tenure).
However, what Rita says here is that you need to be a teacher who builds relationships. That is one thing that I try to do when I come into a new class. I get to know the faces and the personalities of the kids. I try to learn their likes and dislikes. I find out what their interests are and what similarities we have. I make sure to learn their names and learn what they want to be called (nicknames). I talk to them and treat them as I would treat another adult that I was talking to (because they are just little people, after all). This makes all the difference! Not only do you have a better class that actually LIKES you! But you also have a class that is excited to come to school everyday and get to see you. This leads to better classroom management, more engaged students, and students that are ready to learn! Just because a student may be struggling, it doesn't mean that they aren't trying. Maybe they just don't know how to express how they are struggling. When a teacher has a relationship built with a student, the student develops a trust with that teacher and the teacher becomes easier to talk to and to discuss issues with. Also, when relationships are built between teachers and students and that trust is built, the students feel that they can be more open with you and less afraid of you.
I had teachers that I was afraid of until I left the school (and some I still fear today, lol). But the teachers that took time to build a relationship with me and treated me like another human being rather than someone "under them" were the teachers that I loved and learned to trust and I know that I can still talk to them today and be completely open and honest with them.
In connecting this to technology, this is one of the reasons that I think having a Google Form done at the beginning of the year/semester is a good idea. It gets you to know the kids a little better before actually talking to them. You can learn some of their interests, goals, hobbies, learning styles, etc. It is a useful tool and the surveys can even be sent out before even meeting your new students if you have their e-mail addresses (which some schools have those records while others don't). But even so, that could be a great "first or second day activity."
[TED]. (2013, May 3). Every kid needs a champion | Rita Pierson. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFnMTHhKdkw&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp&index=9
Destin had a couple of welder friends who like to play tricks on him, an engineer, and rigged up a bike that was the same in everyway to any other bike except for one thing - the steering was reversed. When he turned the handlebars left, the front wheel would turn right, and when he turned the handlebars to the right, the wheel would turn left. They then asked him to ride the bike and Destin thought this would be no challenge and quickly agreed, but found out very early on that this was not so easy. This was not because he didnt know how to ride a bike... he had been riding bikes since he was a kid. It wasn't that he lacked any knowledge either. As he states, he knew that the bike was reversed before he tried to ride it and nothing else was changed. What was different was his understanding of riding a bicyle. His brain had already made neural pathways that had been carved deep into his brain over the years. So, when he got on with the small modification of changing your directional movement of the handlebars - he just could not do it. He eventually got it down, then tried teaching his much younger son. His son was able to master as much as Destin did in 8 months... but it only took his son 2 weeks to get to the same point. This demonstates neuroplasticity in the brain of a child and how the older you get, the more "set in your ways" you become, either figuritively, or psychologically. After learning, unlerning, and relearning, he then tried riding a normal bike again, and he couldn't at first, but eventually his brain clicked back into those old neural pathways and he could suddenly ride a normal bike again.
This got me thinking about how I learn and how, as a teacher, I teach. I am a kinesthetic learner, meaning I learn best when I am experiencing it (also called tactile, or "trial-and-error"). The best way for me to learn how to do something is to actually try doing it over and over again until I get it. I know not all students learn in this way (while some do), but for me it has less to do with their learning styles and more to do with their understanding (not that learning styles are not important... they are, but I am just focusing on this for now). Just as Destin pointed out, knowledge is nothing without understanding. He could spend 5 years talking about how that bike worked backwards and how difficult it is to ride, but without actually getting on the bike and gaining an understanding of it, he would never have been able to learn to ride it. In History and the Social Sciences, we call this application of the material. Everything tht is taught to the student needs to have real-world application if in nothing else but its principles. If there is no application, there is no connection; if there is no connection, there is no understanding; and if there is no understanding, all the knowledge in the world means NOTHING (unless you want to win at Jeopardy).
Teaching to understanding is not brand new, but it is on the newer side of the learning scales. Before, it was teach, and they learn, and if they are doing their part, they will understand. But we realize now that people, let alone students, don't learn like that. Instead, we need to teach to understanding, not to knowing the curriculum. Knowing the curriculum just prepares you to maybe one day teach the same thing to another classroom. What we need to do is not focus AS MUCH on the content (though some content is important... especially in History), but rather focus more on the understanding and application. The whole reason we learn history is to learn from it; to not repeat our mistakes, but to repeat our advances. Without an UNDERSTANDING of WHY the Revolutionary War was fought, who cares THAT it was fought in the first place?
Finally, modern technology has put alomst the entire collective of human knowledge literally at our fingertips. We type what we want to know into google and the tech genie grants your wish! But one thing that google will never be able to do is THINK CRITICALLY and UNDERSTAND history. It can compute, recall, and export the information, but it can't take it to a deeper understanding - only people can do that. And that is why we need to teach students through understanding, not through just knowledge... because knowledge is cheap these days; UNDERSTANDING is POWER!
Destin. [SmaterEveryDay]. (2015, April 24). The Backwards Brain Bicycle - Smarter Every Day 133. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0&index=2&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp
While I understand what he is saying and I do mostly agree with what he is saying, I don't agree with some of what he put into his speech. It seems like some of what he showed was agenda driven and had little to do with his main point, save for a small thread of connection. However, apart from the agenda and ideal pushing that he does, I do agree that we need to move from a society that makes people knowledgeable to a society that make students knowledge-able.
Since, as he explains, out the world we have so much information swirling around us, education is no longer about knowing. Nowadays, the importance in education is knowing how to get information. For a while, schools have really been wrestling with this point and being in my 30s, I actually lived my entire school-life within that span where there was a good amount of experimentation going on. While my school stay fairly traditional in how the teaching was done, I had friends that went to other schools who were taught in what was called, an "alternative way." The questions keeps shifting though, as Wesch points out. Whereas the question used to be, "What do we teach students?" since we've moved into this digital age and technocentric world, the question has become "How do we teach students?" As he says, "There's something in the air... and what's in the air is nearly the entire body of human knowledge." Because of that, teaching and assessing based on what you know seems a bit ridiculous. While I do agree with most of what he is saying here, I also want to point out that there are still some redeeming qualities about learning certain knowledge. We need to have a base of knowledge, and especially when it comes to history, there needs to be an overall understanding of the order of events (but not necessarily "dates and dead people").
But when it comes to later years in school, then Wesch makes more sense, With the later years, we do need to move from "what students need to know" and into "how they know it." In other words, it is not about what you know and believe, but the evidence you have and the rguement you make. Since Technology today is all about Connecting, Organizing, Sharing, Collecting, Collaborating, Publishing, Critiquing, and Discussing, students really need to be taught how to use these tools in the right way. Just as arguing effectively was outlined by greek philosophers and then built on by subsequent philosophers, so the same needs to be done in this new age of ubiquitous information.
So while I overall agree with him, I can really only see the usefulness of this approach in higher grades. You don't teach Kindergarteners argumentation, because they dont have a foundation to understand it yet, and the same should be true for the "from knowledgeable to knowledge-able" argument, as well. Students should have a foundation of basic knowledge while the critical thinking, discussion, creation, and publishing of knowledge can come later down the road.
Wesch, M. (2010, October 12). From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8
Richard Sable is from Vista, CA and graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2014 with a B.A. in Social Science and is currently working on his single subject teaching credential in the field of Social Science at CSU, San Marcos.