In the first of two posts, Jal Mehta argues that neither reformers nor traditionalists have all the answers in moving towards deeper learning for all. This post highlights five blind spots of reformers that he thinks are worthy of more open discussion.
The local name for the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington is “the Badlands,” and with good reason. Pockmarked with empty lots and burned-out row houses, the area has an unemployment rate of 29 percent and a poverty rate of 90 percent. Just a few miles to the northwest, the genteel neighborhood...
What most educators would call “subjects” or “disciplines,” Jeff Hopkins, principal of the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry, regards as “silos” when they restrict the scope of learning and nodes of a knowledge network when they serve as points of interconnection.
There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands of numbers, the order of all the cards in a deck (or ten!), and much more. Science writer Joshua Foer describes the technique -- called the memory palace -- and shows off its most remarkable feature: anyone can learn how to use it, including him.
Critical thinking isn't an entirely natural process; it's one that requires courage.
For educators, as a term critical thinking is similar to words like democracy, global, and organic: You hear people use them all the time, but no one seems to understand what they mean.
This kind of etymological opacity lends itself to them being misused, fumbled awkwardly, and abused. Over the long term, such abuse empties it of meaning until we all either throw it around casually in the middle of an overly complex sentence to bolster our own credibility, or avoid the term altogether.
26 ways to ensure kids have safe & vibrant learning opportunities in & out of the classroom. The Aspen Task Force is here: bit.ly/1oAuCah
The digital revolution has transformed almost every aspect of society. No facet of this revolution has more potential than its ability to change the way people learn. The availability of a vast array of knowledge and resources at the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen, together with the ability to connect instantaneously with peers and mentors across the street and across the globe, make possible completely new learning environments and experiences. These opportunities are highly engaging and collaborative, and they are based on learners’ own interests and strengths. Students can truly learn any time, any place and at any pace.
However, our traditional system of education is rooted in a model first developed in the Industrial Age. It assumes that knowledge is transferred from an external source—teachers, books and schools—to a student. Students are grouped by age, and progress is often based on the amount of time they spend in class and not on how much they have learned. In most instances, any learning that takes place outside class does not count for credit, nor is it even formally recognized.
This long-held model is struggling to engage a new generation of students for whom learning is happening all the time—online, off-line, in classrooms, as well as after school, in libraries and at museums. The connected learner can access tutorials, lessons and entire courses online while participating in afterschool programs such as code academies and maker labs.
To maximize these learning opportunities, young people must be fully connected. Students need to connect easily with others who can support their learning and to have the ability to share their ideas widely and safely. They need access to broadband, devices and software as well as to high-quality content and the literacy skills to support their full participation. They need to prepare for the world of bits, networks and entrepreneurship.
The Alliance for Excellent Education created a project-based learning toolkit that includes frameworks for approaching PBL and specific project plans that address standards, 21st century skills, and options for various technologies and lengths of implementation.
Danielle Filipiak didn't start with technology, or even with the core curriculum or community issues. She started with questions: "What does it mean to be a human being?" followed by "What prevents people from living fully as human beings?" Filipiak's reasoning: "If you don't believe you have a voice and that your literacy practices can do anything for you, then you aren't engaging fully as a human being."