Fisching for Knowledge

Posted on January 27, 2010. Filed under: edublog, educational, reflection | Tags: , , |

Karl Fisch’s Elluminate session was very interesting.  It moved quickly and I was trying to write down my thoughts about what he was saying, but there were just so many things that interested me! 

First, Karl asked the question “What do kids need to be successful?”  This is a loaded question with a million answers.  As we all know, children are unique; there will never be one strategy or formula for success in school.  But I feel like saying that is a cop-out.  So I have come up with 3 things that I believe are needed for children to be successful in today’s schools.  #1- Support.  Nobody goes through life by themselves.  Our human lives are made up of complex inter-woven relationships.  Though sometimes we think we are totally independent, we are not.  We need other people.  Even though some children may not have the most supportive home environments, children NEED support.  Support from teachers, family, principals, friends, mentors etc.  This is where I think social networking is a must.  Not always in a virtual sense, but through many ways; reading buddies, blogging buddies, mentorship programs, twitter, and extra curricular programs are all great ways to be connected with other people who can offer support.  How that ties into a classroom situation is something else to think about.  #2) Critical Thinking Skills.  I was laughing while planning a Science lesson a couple of days ago.  In the Grade 2 Weather curriculum, there are objectives that have to do with cloud formations and how they affect the weather.  Well, I’m not going to lie, I am re-learning all the names of these clouds (cirrus, nimbus etc.) just so I can teach the kids these names.  Is this teaching the kids critical thinking skills?  Not really.  This part of the curriculum is kind of a memorize and learn part of the curriculum.  Will they forget the names of the clouds by next year? Probably.  So, I ask myself, how do we teach critical thinking?  Well, we need to give them something to think critically about… and I don’t think it’s clouds.  How weather affects Regina versus Haiti is somewhere I am heading in this unit.  But should I ditch curriculum to teach other things I think are more important?  #3) Goals/Dreams-  Be reflective with me for a moment.  Look back on your life.  What was a dream or a goal of yours when you were 10?  (No, don’t keep reading.  Actually try and think for a moment.  I know it was a long time ago for some of you, but really try this!)  One of mine was to make the best Disney Jeopardy there ever was.  I had visions of myself and the other kids on my bay playing Disney Jeopardy in my backyard with podiums, and categories, and Alex Trebek cue cards and everything.  It was awesome.  I even found one or two boxes in my basement that we started to build a podium with.  The dream ended pretty quickly as the reality started to set in that making Disney Jeopardy was a huge job.  (It probably didn’t help that I was a little bit bossy and had assumed that I was going to be the permanent host of the show).  Either way, what a HUGE dream!  It was a dream that motivated me to great lengths of preperation, time and work.  I was 10!  Think of what could have been accomplished if I had the support of an educator who knew how to chanel my dream!  Think of the curriculum connections.  Math- adding and wagering points.  Language Arts- Coming up with questions- or should I say answers?  Research skills- Finding information for the categories  Art- Designing practical podiums for 10 year olds.  Critical Thinking- What kinds of problems one might come across, how to solve those problems.  The possibilities are endless!  But is it worth it?  As an educator, what would I have to sacrifice to make this type of a scenario happen?

Wow, I didn’t expect my first thought to take up that much room!  I guess I will only talk about one other specific thing that struck a chord with me in Karl Fisch’s presentation.  I loved his Did You Know presentation, but- for the sake of conversation I am going to challenge a couple things he says.  So, if I understood the presentation correctly, his point of giving all those statistics was to say that change is inevitable, and as educators, we need to be changing because we are preparing students for jobs and careers that don’t even exist yet.  I understood from the video that we need to be re-thinking “school design” because we are the one social institution that changes the slowest.  This makes sense considering we have all been socialized (for at least 13 years of our life) into the career that we are now in .  Not many other careers can say that.  BUT my question here is- what is wrong with the system we have in place?  Obviously the people who are now in jobs that never used to exist were brought up with traditional schooling.  The computer engineers who are designing these super computers that are incredibly fast, were not familiar with fast computers when they were growing up.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe we are always changing and we need to embrace change…   but only as long as we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Do you think the way we do school needs to completely change?

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2 Responses to “Fisching for Knowledge”

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I also had to teach grade two science on clouds! I had to learn all the names (and had a devil of a time doing it). I too struggled with the fact of teaching the kids all the different types of clouds. They could not remember the cloud names from day to day if their life depended on it (which I can’t blame them…some were pretty tricky to say when you are just learning how to read). I thought that there were a lot more beneficial things to be teaching them. The unit did cover some of those…such as how important whether is in our lifes, etc. I know for a fact that if I went back now and asked them what one type of cloud was they would never remember! I can’t even remember them! So I think…I wasted probably a total of 5 hours learning about different types of clouds and recreating them..and what weather they bring etc.! Granted that isn’t THAT much time..but I could have been doing something they might have actually remembered even if it didn’t fit into the curriculum. On that note, I think we are taking smalls steps in making kids think critcally. One subject I think this is made obvious is in math with the new math makes sense program. Students are definately encouraged/forced to think more critically which is a very hard concept for them and even myself just we have never been put in that situation before.

Yes! I agree, those cloud names are stupid. haha. I am so glad to hear that someone else struggles through the same tensions. I feel like elementary Science NEEDS to move beyond memorizing facts and names. I also agree that Math Makes Sense is on the right track. Now if only we could get all the teachers in the system on board! 😉

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