Happy children make happy students. Laughter breaks the monotony and endears students to their teacher. What if teachers deliberately engaged in lighter moments of mirth in class?
The whole education system revolves around a hierarchical system of recognition - from teachers to students and certifying bodies to teachers and education boards to schools. What if we instead gave students the choice to certify teachers, for teachers to certify the certifiers, and for schools to certify the education boards, and perhaps the boards to certify government policies?
We know that no two students are alike. What if students were helped to identify their goals and given support to discover their next steps in reaching that goal?
In a rote learning environment, students end up virtually learning to the test, bounded by certain kinds of questions and 'approved' or closely scoped answers. Instead, what if part of the student's evaluation consisted on evaluating the quality of questions that she would come up with?
A hugely successful strategy for the early MOOCs was the practice of connecting diverse practitioners and experts on the subject, to the personal network of their 'students'
Teachers perhaps need to be an equal part performer who enact and 'live' the subject in their interactions with students.
A lot of teachers may benefit from professional coaching on specifically their language and communication skills.
What if teachers were to actively participate in the world of games? Perhaps they would be able to profile their students better, assess their learning needs from their actions and performance on these games, engage with them better in the language they understand and weave instruction around the game contexts?
Today's classrooms largely resemble a factory mode workroom with rows of desks and chairs (and rotation of children through the year across rows, seats and partners), and the teacher at the head of the room, between the instrument of written communication, the blackboard, and the rest of the class.
A school leader has to have many specialized skills in order to administer and lead a school.
The decisions around progression from year to year are made around marks or grades. Where people don't like marks, they move to a grading system - but it is really between those two - we need some system to sort the wheat from the chaff, to rank and select for the next level, and marks/grades look like the logical way.
Today we expect our student teachers to be exposed to the same systems, pedagogical practices and theoretical focus that we expect our students to follow. The system generates people trained to think in the ways of the system - that does wonders for an effort to replicate at scale, but doesn't create transformation patterns.
When we can have differentiated career and interest options for children, why can't there be enough types of career profiles and options created for teachers?
Today the student has no choice in determining which teacher she can relate to and learn from the best. What if students were allowed to gravitate towards, not the "best" as we determine them, but the ones that they comprehend best? Can schools provide that choice, even if it is limited?
So what if schools did not teach, but instead managed a network of smaller centres that were largely autonomously led by expert teachers and counselors?
What if we helped students identify and analyze their learning patterns, behaviour and showed them the impact changes can make to their performance?
In the absence of any formal mechanism, it is up to individual teachers to explore how their students are, and are performing - their attitudes, skills and knowledge.
Traditional classes or grade levels are divided into sections. Subject teachers are allocated to each section. Each section operates in isolation to the other.
What if we made teaching and learning process yield more data? This data would cover not just scholastic and co-scholastic information, but participation in class, techniques employed, student profiles, activities and other data of classroom transactions and student behaviour?
What if students could learn at the university, but the degree could be awarded by learned gurus, selected institutions or bodies or even employers and associations?
Today, teaching in a college does not need the candidate to be certified in "teaching",
Tuition post-school hours has been looked down upon by the education system
What if homework was a starting point for achieving mastery through a series of learning and assessment encounters initiated by the student and facilitated by the teacher?
What could be other forms of evidence that could help employers select the right employee for the job? Could we apply alternate criteria to all fields?
What if teachers were to create a guild to decide for themselves entry, performance objectives, progression and exit criteria for teachers, instead of it being decided by academic elites, bureaucrats and policy makers?
What if the were no mandated assessments by an education board?
What if students apprenticeship was implemented at scale and a significant fraction of total learning hours (say 10%)?
What if teachers spent 1 period a working day on sharing notes on classroom experiences, teaching strategies, learning edTech, special improvement projects, curriculum and professional development in small or large groups?
Does the education system exhibit increasing returns - the rich get richer, those that have get (more)?
4. What if students (and their parents & community) created their own curriculum instead of having no say in its construction & delivery? How would they know?
What if there were no boundaries around subjects and we had only topics or themes? What if the syllabus was not divided into Chapters and Topics?
What if the school was not divided into classes and classes were not divided into sections?
What if the timetable was personalized to the needs of the class?
In an earlier post, I had visited collaboration techniques and some concepts there that I had encountered and thought about. One conclusion was that: It goes back to us, as individuals, and how we collaborate as subjects, alone or in teams or in networks. If the capability to collaborate in structured ways is learnt and... Continue Reading →
Janet Clarey sparked off some serious thinking in my head about, really, what we are measuring in terms of RoI on training initiatives. The post in question was Rob Wilkins' Why do we sacrifice? and you can find our conversation in the comments (and hopefully contribute your thoughts too!). George raises some relevant ideas too in... Continue Reading →
I am investigating the connections between Informal Learning, Communities of Practice, Network of Practice and Connectivism. Found an interesting conversation between Jay Cross, George Siemens, Dave Cormier and (on chat) Stephen Downes on EdTechTalk#23, Nov 3, 2005. Found also Wenger's interview and lecture at a KnowledgeLabs e-portfolio Konference where he talks about learning as meaning/sense making.
I have an occasion to do a little research on the Montessori method. Named after Dr. Maria Montessori, who, in 1896, was the first woman in Italy to graduate out of medical school, the Montessori method seems to have rich similarities with Connectivism. The basic Montessori concepts are pretty well known by now (Montessori in... Continue Reading →
Is there something like that at all? In a discussion yesterday, an important point was made by a participant - we don't want perfect environments to be created for our learners, even if we could create them. Why is this important to discuss? Everywhere around us there are "frictional" forces that impede or obscure -... Continue Reading →
In a previous post, I tried to identify some of the impacts of connectivist practice on visual design. Primarily, these are: Usability Visual "languages" HCI Design Programmable patterns depicted visually Shared visual patterns Ease of authoring new media and media mashups I was referred to ManyEyes through a blog post (I think it was George's... Continue Reading →