I want to highlight several developments that I think are extremely important in education generally, and that will make laziness, incompetence and irresponsibility among teachers rare.
Firstly, I notice with relief that there has been a shift in policy away from a naive belief that children are blank slates and that we can dump stuff in front of them that they assimilate—the sort of thinking that lies behind handouts or notes on a board, copied from an irrelevant textbook. I like the sense that we need to carefully identify markers in learning and understanding, and then help students navigate their way through these, like movement across sunlit water.
I like, too, the growing literature among policy writers that questions the need for strict regulations on contact time (hours taught per week), calendar days and school holidays (a throwback to times when children harvested crops with the family), and for the need to meld together student age and school grade (K-12).
But best of all, I like the dawning realisation that technology will revolutionise, indeed is already revolutionising education. Particularly with regard to assessment—one of the three pillars in education (curriculum; teaching and learning; assessment). Read More
A higher-order thinker is a critical thinker. What are the attributes of a critical thinker? In The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Richard Paul and Linda Elder describe a well-cultivated critical thinker as someone who:
Ever since the invention of the printed word, academics have been arguing about the proper place of technology in teaching. On one side are those who I’ll call the traditionalists who insist on the primacy of face-to-face and barely tolerate online delivery. For the traditionalists, students need, as one colleague put it, to be exposed to the “rhetorical performance of the lecture”. For them, students learn a great deal from simply watching academics nut through problems. Read More
From Mother Goose rhymes to physics lessons, YouTube has some incredibly educational and entertaining offerings for kids.
YouTube's statistics never cease to amaze: more than 1 billion unique users per month, over 6 billion hours of video watched per month, 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. Fine, but what if you want to find something for your kids to watch besides expletive-laced game commentary and twerking videos? Read More
I know. You’re worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting, shoving, pinching, scratching, maybe even biting other children. The one who always has to hold my hand in the hallway. The one who has a special spot at the carpet, and sometimes sits on a chair rather than the floor. The one who had to leave the block center because blocks are not for throwing. The one who climbed over the playground fence right exactly as I was telling her to stop. The one who poured his neighbor’s milk onto the floor in a fit of anger. On purpose. While I was watching. And then, when I asked him to clean it up, emptied the ENTIRE paper towel dispenser. On purpose. While I was watching. The one who dropped the REAL ACTUAL F-word in gym class. Read More
A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.
I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”
I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.” Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common. Read More
More kids are putting down their video game handhelds for tablets and smartphones, according to a new survey. Children ages 4 to 14 are using smartphones and tablets more than all other electronic devices, a recent report from The NPD Group indicates. The report, Kids and CE: 2014, showed that the number of children in that age group who use smartphones has risen sharply. In 2012, respondents in 21 percent of homes with children surveyed said the child used a smartphone. In 2014, that number has jumped to 35 percent. For tablets, the figure more than doubled to 31 percent this year, up from 13 percent in 2012. Read More
Download recent report from NPD Group on Kid’s Usage of Smartphones and Tablets Outpaces All Other Electronics
For many students, the mention of homework evokes a sense of dread. Ask any parent and chances are they, too, have a strong opinion about the value of homework.
Educators and researchers are divided on the issue. In the last decade, an emphasis on standardized tests has become much more prevalent, creating incentives to assign students with even more homework. At the same time, a recent study from Stanford University shows that spending too much time on homework can contribute to anxiety, physical health problems, and even alienation from society. The snowball effect of stress among teachers, students and parents over homework seems to be increasing with no end in sight. Unfortunately, homework as we know it is generally not effective. No data consistently shows that homework leads to learning or better grades, much less to development of cognitive skills not measured by traditional assessments. It is time to reimagine not only the amount of homework necessary but also its format. Read More
Watch this great video on Accelerating EdTech Through The Power of Games
Video games are a ubiquitous part of almost all children’s and adolescents’ lives, with 97% playing for at least one hour per day in the United States. The vast majority of research by psychologists on the effects of “gaming” has been on its negative impact: the potential harm related to violence, addiction, and depression. We recognize the value of that research; however, we argue that a more balanced perspective is needed, one that considers not only the possible negative effects but also the benefits of playing these games. Read More
The realities of the “digital divide” are increasingly apparent. In a consumer culture that equates status with early adoption of the newest iPhone, access to new technology necessarily splits pretty clearly along socio-economic class lines. According to U.S. census data, for example, more than 30 million homes have no broadband access, most of them concentrated in some of the poorest parts of the country. Read More