Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dear all,

I was going to write a post about peace and happiness that fitted in to the festive season that is approaching. However, I got distracted by this talk, educating the Heart and Mind by Sir Ken Robinson because it is humorous, will make you laugh as well as feel good about what we are doing at ISHCMC. This talk is 48 minutes long so please allow yourself time to listen to his words. I assure you the time will pass quickly   In this talk Sir Ken touches on consciousness and our rational mind, feelings and thinking, our inner world and education's obsession with the outer world rather than focusing on what essentially makes us human. His logic encourages us to provide more time and opportunities for our students to engage more with what is inside them. This links beautifully with the affective skills that we are developing through the AtL's and PYP Attitudes. Sir Ken's thinking supports are work on character traits and developing an increased understanding of self and empathy. Sir Ken concludes that there needs to be personalized learning, a central position for the arts and finally the need for mindfulness within education. A move away from impersonal mechanistic school cultures towards one that is more organic and respects our differences as individual beings.

Reflecting back on Sir Ken's talk I have to admit feeling very proud of our alignment with his thinking and that of the educationalists and philosophers that he refers to in his talk. As he ends the talk I had goose bumps thinking that in his advice for education, and how it needs to change, he could have been describing ISHCMC and the journey we are on.

Thanks to all of you for the enlightened path you are treading.

Hope you enjoyed.

Have a safe, happy and relaxing winter break.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Food for Thought: The Importance of Handwriting

Dear all,

It feels like an eternity ago but in reality it is only a few weeks I wrote about the importance of reading. Today this Food for Thought will begin with a few insights into writing. I want to share these with you because in our age of technology the importance of writing can be lost as we type/ thumb on so many of our devices. These articles are for all of us to read because i believe it is important that as ISHCMC teachers we understand the whole story from EE2 through to upper secondary school. in today's world of education you never know when skills that should be developed in lower primary school may be needing teaching in upper secondary as they have to hand write exams in a legible form.

Image result for robot hand writing

Also as we gaze into the future and AI I wonder whether the ability to hand write and therefore demonstrate personality through our writing style and formation of letters will be something that might be used to differentiate humans from machines. Yes, I know that machines can produce perfect hand writing but by being perfect and consistent they give away that they are a machine. Isn't it our imperfections as humans that will eventually stand us a-side from AI. Can a machine be made that is programmed to be imperfect? (Food for Thought all on its own)

Image result for child hand writing

This first article was sent to me recently about the right time to teach the mechanics of handwriting successfully for our students, The Stages of Hand Grip for Writing. As I said in the introduction we should all be cognizant of these developmental skills because there are many older students who write terribly and often it is because they have not been taught the mechanics of writing at the right age.

"As a teacher and educator, I am very concerned about the push down of handwriting.  It is scary to see the wide spread practice of teaching three and four year olds to write before they are physically ready.  I wanted to share a few developmental pieces I have regarding the development of the hand grip.
As you look at the physical developmental picture of a child’s capacity to hold a writing instrument, think of the practices in your classroom or with your child.   While we all know every child’s readiness is individually based – for most four year olds,  the fine localized movements required to write effectively have not developed.  Looking at Stage Four, we see that many children will not develop this until age 6.  In countries like Finland, Switzerland and Sweden, children are not formally taught to write until seven years old.  This allows for the vast differences in readiness."
This article, Cursive Handwriting and Other Education Myths raises questions not about the importance of handwriting, because it recognizes that research shows it has an important part to play with cognitive development, but whether it is worth teaching cursive.

"I should make it clear I’m not referring to handwriting itself, often seen as synonymous with cursive. There is ample evidence that writing by hand aids cognition in ways that typing does not: It’s well worth teaching. And I confess I’m old-fashioned enough to think that, regardless of proven cognitive benefits, a good handwriting style is an important and valuable skill, not only when your laptop batteries run out but as an expression of personality and character. I should also say that cursive is a perfectly respectable, and occasionally lovely, style of writing, and children should have the opportunity to learn it if they have the time and inclination. My eldest child loves cursive and has the most elegant handwriting, in which I take great pride. And I love a good Victorian copperplate as much as anyone."

To conclude this week's Food for Thought here is an interesting piece of research which questions the use of taking notes on a laptop as apposed to writing on paper. It is certainly Food for Thought for all secondary school teachers and particularly those teaching the IB Diploma. The research was entitled  The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard. Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking by Pam A. Mueller, Daniel M. Oppenheimer

Here is the abstract from this research: