FUNdamental Education

In case you think it’s a typing error, I did capitalize FUN on purpose.  It’s been one of the ideas that I think about in relation to education.  You know those moments in any class you take where you’re just really excited about what you’re going to do?  Whether it’s a new book (I love, love, love new books) or a topic you’re interested in or passionate about or just the chance to explore something new.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about the Educational Technology class (I swear I’m not trying to suck up by saying this) is just the chance to explore new things.  It’s just cool.  I had no idea that GoogleDocs had so many features.  Getting the chance to get to know my classmates by sharing documents with them is just plain fun to me.

I want to capture that sense of excitement and just plain fun in my own teaching.  One of the things that could potentially hold that back is the notion of “teaching to the test”.  In a comment from my last post, a fellow blogger (from Australia!) named Paula Thomas mentioned instrinsic motivation, and that’s exactly what I want my students to feel.  It’s just difficult to feel that about learning when it’s not necessarily what you’re interested in but what’s required.

I’m starting to see how introducing new technology can “shake things up” in the classroom.  Having to write a paper can be a little more interesting if you get to explore GoogleDocs while writing it; if the use of that technology helps you to become a better writer by letting you get instant feedback from your teacher, that can change the way you learn and maybe the way you feel about learning.

I’m still struggling with this idea.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “FUNdamental Education

  1. Stephen Ransom

    Yes! Technology has indeed shaken up the learning community outside of the walls of school. It’s time it shake things up within them as well. There is a fallacy held by many that in order to prepare students for the test we must do a great deal of test preparation. If we simply teach our students well, and in relevant and meaningful ways, they’ll do well on the tests, too. However, when we don’t, they don’t learn to learn, they see little value in learning, they learn only to perform well on assessments, and a host of management and motivational issues plague our classrooms.

    Please keep having fun! If you are not playing with these technologies and exploring their potential, they won’t spark your creativity and they won’t help you build a renewed passion for being a learner in the 21st century. And if these things don’t happen, you’ll have little passion and joy for learning to pass on to your own students in meaningful and relevant ways.

    • The idea of learning to learn especially started clicking when I watched the lecture for this week. Making connections and understanding those connections for effective learning can help students when they sit down to assessments and they look at a question on social studies, for instance. If you’re teaching to the assessment, it seems to me that they’ve just memorized a bunch of facts so that when they come to that question, it’s a matter of whether or not the answer is in the back of their minds, even if they don’t understand the impact of the event being asked about. However, if they come to the assessment with a variety of effective learning strategies, they may come to that same question and be able to find the answer employing these strategies.

      So for instance, if a student comes to a question on the American Revolutionary War, if he or she can make connections based on learning strategies, the answer is not just a fact pulled from the mind but an actual understanding of the impact the event had on US and world history.

  2. Stephen Ransom

    Exactly. Do we want a nation of test takers or a nation of problem-solvers with a deep understanding of context, concept, and how to solve problems together using current tools? Which one really reflects reality?

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