Tag Archives: Learning

For the Love of Learning

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Reflecting on why it is I keep coming back to this blog and I realise that it is purely for the reflective time spent on why I believe learning is a “life blood” that naturally runs through all of us.

For some it runs freely and smoothly while for others it gets “clogged” up with an insistence that there is an ongoing blockage for the need to learn. Whether it be excuses or resistance to upset the “norm” of our lives.

As I think about young students in a classroom, or anywhere for that matter, there is a insatiable desire to learn. It may not be in the Maths lesson Period 7 on a summer afternoon in a classroom with no air conditioning but in their overall “desire” is to understand their world and “make  a dent in it”.

As adults, this desire seems to waver in some but thankfully not all. It becomes a load, and “overwhelming luggage” to get to our next destination. I have heard colleagues discuss learning, whether professional or tertiary based, as too unbearable and painful as if they were pulling a wheelbarrow between their teeth up a steep incline.

Whatever happened to “For the love of learning”? For the pure knowledge that your cognitive space is motivated and enhanced. That your world may seem more interesting to try to understand. That your life may become more educationally 3Dimensional.

Learning is not a given. Learning is not something that you “order” to suit your needs at that moment in time. Learning is not about already knowing something and resisting the new knowledge. Learning is the new! Learning is pushing through obstacles and finding things that you didn’t even know existed. Learning is about stopping at a particular moment and inhaling new found knowledge. Learning is about success and failure. Learning is about discussing with others and coming up wth knowledge that is new to you.

If we are relying on “learning” to be a slow moving, gentle cruise along the mild river of life, we are shutting our eyes to so many “adventures” along the way. I know I want my learning to be a “water rafting” ride in life. I want the ups and the downs, the screams of fear and the screams of success. And I want to know that at the end of my life, I have had the “learning” ride of my life.

So many of us have learning lapping at our fingertips within the reach of our keyboard and computer but we find the reasons for sending it away or upturn our noses at the chance to learn. For others on this planet, learning is so valuable that they risk their life. The village people of Atuleer Village in China are such brave advocates for the power and privilege to learn. (see video)

Atuleer Village China Risk Their Life for Learning

The next time you have the opportunity to ‘learn something” don’t look for the excuses nor  make the excuses. Instead, strap your helmet on, grip the oar as tight as you can and get ready to run down the river with the white water rushing around you. You’ll see it can be the best ride of your life!

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Don’t Judge Their Learning If Their Margins Aren’t Straight

ImageMany, many years ago, when I was teaching a Year 6 class, we had what we called “School Appraisal”. It pretty much was an inspection of everything that was “school” in our school. The Principal, the staff, the policies, the classroom programs, the playground structures and the list goes on.

At the time, I was asked to submit three exercise books of students in my class to showcase learning to the Education Office inspectors. Continue reading

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Please Miss, Please Sir…I Just Need Some Confidence To Be Creative

Unknown-1Sitting around the staff table for many years and hearing the itenary of staff meetings coming up for the next Term used to send me in a mild “internal meltdown”.

Literacy, Numeracy, more Literacy and more Numeracy. And before any Literacy or Numeracy Co-Ordinator  mentions how important they are, I already get that..I know they are the two “big gunners” of education but my question remained, every time, can we spend a staff meeting, even just one to start with, looking at some personal development in kids?

I am a firm believer in the notion that if we give our students confidence first and foremost, then they can reach goals that no curriculum outcome has even thought about. If a student asks “Can I?” is it not our responsibility as educators  to reply “Tell me how you can…or why you can…or when you can.”

Confidence allows for creativity which allows for invention, for initiative, for expression, for explanation, for so many wonderful, ideal qualities.

Confidence allows for celebrating success and accepting failure.

Confidence allows for self directed learning and capability of assessment and evaluation of one’s learning.

Confidence allows for ability to teach as much as it does to learn.

When a parent came to me with concerns about their child who was in any grade, my first educator’s words of advise was “Don’t kill their confidence and please don’t focus purely on what they can’t achieve according to school expectations”. One student stood out for me in my teaching life, as he was struggling from Day 1 in his school life with diagnosed learning difficulties. Limited reading and poor communication was this mother’s anguish. I asked the mother to simply accept that building his confidence and allowing him to find his “niche” is the answer. Allowing him to try things and accept “failure” as opposed to making him fit in the “classroom square”. Allow him to be creative.

This child simply needed to know he had the right and capability to speak up and try things out, success or failure was measured in the trying. His mother came back to my classroom six years later and knocked on the door and said, ” He had found his niche. He had studied landscaping and just received a state government contract for landscaping the Railway Stations.” This confidence had unleashed a landscaping creative entrepreneur!

I am as human as the next student, and realise that if I have no support system around me when I try things out in my learning, then I am reluctant to want to continue to learn. When the feedback is positive, supportive, constructive, freeing, then I will take just that one step further.

If every child on this planet was allowed to be confident; if every child was given permission to be confident; if every child was taught to be confident; my goodness, imagine the creative world we would live in then!

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Not a Rebellious Ideal of Reformation: Grades and Exams

UnknownRecently, I have come to the end of several units that I have been studying at university after many years out of the university environment.

The first thing that struck me was the different ways of learning. Online, face to face and others. Here, I am in three online units, each “teaching” me in different ways. This is not a post about which one is better or what lecturer was more effective in my learning. This sort of commentary is subjective to individual students and in my opinion, plays “ping pong” discussion with each person’s beliefs all the while challenging another’s beliefs with no expression to motivate others to change.

This post is about how and why we grade and examine students. It is not a rebellious ideal of reforming the education system because I am not trying to reshape everything that has and continues to occur in school rooms all over the world.

This post is purely and simply an awakening.

I was a teacher for many years and examined my older students and graded their “learning”. It was cultural. I could see the students who “worked hard” got a good grade and felt good about themselves. And those students who didn’t do too well, I felt compelled to “prop them up” with simplistic self esteem boosts.

I almost feel a shame and need to apologise to students. Was I a  good teacher? I’d like to think so. Was I empathic? I’d like to think so. Did I try to energise my class with exciting and reachable “learning experiences”?  I tried and thought I did.

But now, being the student and not the teacher, has given me the chance to realign my thinking. Sure, “grade” students and even “examine them” but let’s step back and think about how we do it and most importantly, why we do it. With all the means of learning and teaching available to us surely we can do better than a 20 question multiple choice test to be completed in a limited amount of time?

Always remembering that:

One students’ knowledge is not the same as any other’s knowledge…thank goodness!

One student’s experiences are not the same as any other’ students experiences…thank goodness!

One student’s dreams are not the same as another student’s dreams…thank goodness!

My eyes are widening and my views are now shaken. Do I believe there is a place for grades and exams…perhaps, still deliberating??

However, what I do strongly and passionately believe in now is that we have so, so many tools and resources to “assess learning” and even “reflect teaching practises” that we shouldn’t be restricting our “terms of judgment” to “pen to paper exams”. Surely we owe it to our students to be more creative, more just in our choice of examination, more compelled to help them achieve from their initial point of instruction.

I do know that my re-entering into a classroom after these studies will be different…so much different. That is, if I pass my exam that says I can re-enter!

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Kindling a Flame

imagesAfter finishing a university unit and reading the evaluations of other students, I started to mentally digest what makes one unit more effective, enjoyable, rewarding and productive than another. After all, I am in the position of student at the moment as opposed to my usual position as teacher.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
Socrates

The thoughts of my fellow students have had my mind working overtime as I tried to “steal” some teaching and implementation skills from the unit. Each evaluation I read seemed to repeat many common statements.I found this fascinating as this was not a group to rely on others to think for them, this was a well thought and informed group. Why then the many similarities?

The unit itself was online but regardless of the different formats ie my classroom face to face teaching as opposed to online, I realised that there are many elements I could borrow from this unit:

These elements as I understood, defined and summarised are as follows: Continue reading

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Aligning (Not Combining) Aboriginal and Western Pedagogy …I Just Don’t Get It!

I have just been asked to re-design a current unit of work, which would be used in the classroom, with both current curriculum and 8Ways Pedagogy of Thinking. 

At first, I had no idea where to start…no idea. Do I start from an Aboriginal perspective or from my original perspective?

So, being “Implementation of 8Ways Illiterate” I started with what I knew. That is, the unit “Global Environments – Rainforests” from the New South Wales Board of Studies website. Nothing too exciting till my feet “got off the ground” with the idea of aligning two pedagogies.

Continue reading

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A Future “Generating Knowledge” Space Design Brief

All Working TogetherThis is a reflection I have visited so often lately, that is, to brief a future learning space. One that will keep up with changes socially, environmentally and technically. And the more I reflect on this the more “dense” and “thickened” my ideas become. To the point that I no longer felt I had a clear vision.

What would be needed in a future learning space in the outback is on a completely different level and purpose to the city. What would be needed if the world resources continue to dive is not “predictable” in just one area as education as so much is affected by it.

Then this morning I realised that no matter how many times I scribed my thoughts on paper, on the computer, in my eyes there is no “crystal ball”, no solution, no correct answer. It was all about current research, current ideas and future perceptions. Continue reading

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Filed under 21st Century Learning, Classroom Designs, Communities of Practice, Curriculum, Hedley Beare, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces