Sunday, May 26, 2019

Food for Thought: Engagement of just more compliance?

Recently I was encouraged to read John Taylor Gatto's work by two of our teachers who guessed I'd enjoy his work. I immediately obtained two of his books, Dumbing us Down and Weapons of Mass Destruction. They have been my bedtime reading for the last two weeks. This reading came on top of my recent reading of the Yuval Harari trilogy, and Free to Learn, by Peter Gray, in which it becomes obvious that school is not, and never has been aligned with how humans really learn. I think we all need to be thinking about this fact as educators. Hence, this weeks Food for Thought, and it is a bit longer than some in the past, but I did give you last week off you thinking homework. 😉 I am now convinced more than ever that we need to push harder for an educational revolution. As a result of this recent reading I have re framed some of my thinking. It is now clear to me that our present education system is not broken, it is merely doing the job it was created to do......turn out compliant workers who respect authority, don't question systems and are not encouraged to critically problem solve. I am even more convinced that this is why governments are not becoming more reactionary regarding state education because this is to type of citizen that they require schools to produce if they are to maintain control as jobs disappear and society becomes more controlled by AI and instruments of social control.

If you haven't read any John Taylor Gatto I'd like to share this excerpt from a speech he wrote as an introduction to his thinking:
"I've noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my twenty-five years of teaching - that schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don't really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers do care and do work very hard, the institution is psychopathic - it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to different cell where he must memorize that man and monkeys derive from a common ancestor."
Classroom Line.jpg
In this blog post, from Peter De Witt, Student Engagement: Is It Authentic or Compliant? the hidden curriculum that we all take for granted is further questioned in terms of asking what is the difference between apparent engagement and compliance?

"Sometimes a quiet class where students are listening and the teacher is doing the talking is seen as an engaged class. After all, none of the students are acting out, and they are all looking at the teacher. Many of us have been known to say, "1,2,3...eyes on me." this class authentically engaged or compliantly engaged?Engagement is complicated because just because teachers may follow best practices that tell them to put an objective up on the wall for students to see, or run a classroom where students cannot opt out of answering a question, or even cold call or check for understanding, doesn't mean that students are authentically engaged in learning.They may just be compliantly engaged.Compliant learning happens a lot in our classrooms. I recently read about SLANT, which means that students have to "Sit up, Listen, Ask & answer questions, Nod their head, and Track the speaker." Asking and answering questions is fine, but there is a fine balance between asking for compliance and getting authentic learning.Just because a student is sitting up and nodding their head doesn't mean that they are truly engaged in authentic learning, which is why teaching is so hard."

And finally, a short video from Jerry Mintz. "Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public and independent alternative school principal and teacher, he has also helped found more than fifty public and private alternative schools and organizations. He has lectured and consulted in more than twenty-five countries around the world. In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization and since then has served as it’s Director. Jerry was the first executive director of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS), and was a founding member of the International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC)."

It does makes me smile that the type of education that Jerry Mintz and many other educational thinkers are advocating for is called alternative, but is based around how we learn most effectively as humans. The system that should be seen as alternative is the one that was introduced in Church schools in the 15th Century, expanded again at the time of the agricultural revolution in the 18 Century and finally set in stone by the Prussians and the Committee of 10 for the post industrial  revolution world of the 19th Century. The system we have today is based around obedience, compliance and subjugation to a higher authority. Is this what we want for our children and their future?"

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Food for Thought: Are you getting enough sleep?

I asked Teresa to share this TED talk with our IB students as there is lots of information that might encourage them to sleep rather than spend the whole night revising. I think that we will plan to sue this video in september when we have Cognita Be Well Day as one of the strands to this day is sleep. We all know that sleep is important but do we know just how important it is to our well-being. This TED certainly made me realize more about sleep than I had previously thought.

"Sleep is your life-support system and Mother Nature's best effort yet at immortality, says sleep scientist Matt Walker. In this deep dive into the science of slumber, Walker shares the wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep -- and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don't, for both your brain and body. Learn more about sleep's impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code -- as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye."

Sunday, May 5, 2019