Data – big or small!

Came across this article from the Washington Post via twitter this morning. An interesting look at big data by Pasi Sahlberg and Jonathan Hasak. Pasi, from Finland, is known for his writing and speaking on Finland’s education system – and education in general. The argument is that we rely too much on ‘big data’ and need to look at what happens in the classroom – or ‘small data’. The idea of causation vs correlation are examined. I agree that we do need to hear the stories from teachers, students and others in the system. The stories are dismissed as ‘anecdotal’ – which they are, but a lot of positive ideas can come from examining stories in context. I also think we need big data as well – together both forms can act to improve learning for students. I like several passages from the article, but I will use these two;

These data sets, however, often don’t spark insight about teaching and learning in classrooms; they are based on analytics and statistics, not on emotions and relationships that drive learning in schools. They also report outputs and outcomes, not the impacts of learning on the lives and minds of learners.

Big data has certainly proved useful for global education reform by informing us about correlations that occurred in the past. But to improve teaching and learning, it behooves reformers to pay more attention to small data – to the diversity and beauty that exists in every classroom – and the causation they reveal in the present.

Critical Digital Pedagogy

In this article, in one of my favourite journals, Hybrid Pedagogy (and no, not just because I had an article published in it), Sean Michael Morris writes about working in the digital – and in teaching and scholarship. It contains so many wonderful phrases that resonate and make me think. One of my favourite – partly because it is so true for me as well is this,

Right now, the digital is relevant, present, and is that thing that seems to provide the most interesting possibilities and the most contentious challenges in the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning. But it would be a mistake to think that what I do is digital, because what I really do is human.

Take some time and take a read – and check out other articles in this journal, there is lots for contemplation!

Looking with Fresh Eyes

This blog post ( What is Sacred in Education?) by Kelly Tenkely caught my eye – she is writing about her school, Anastasis Academy, in Colorado. She wrote,

When we free ourselves from the perceived rigidity of the system that we are in, and begin with a clean slate, we are free to see things from new perspectives.

Liberate yourselves by giving your minds a ground zero, clean slate, to begin thinking.

The post is interesting as Kelly describes a little about her school and thinking, but the exercise Kelly suggests is a good one. I have been involved with a school division that has allowed teachers to start thinking like this, and as the faculty at my university considers program change, it would be good for us to do as well. So, what is sacred in education to Kelly? … students!

Writing!

Came across this interesting post by Alex Reid. He writes about recent news articles and statistics about complaints by businesses and professors on poor writing skills of employees and students. I love how the author turns these complaints on their head and suggests that maybe rather than complaining, we do something to help, even so, he points out that complaining will still happen. He writes,

Of course the other way of looking at this is to say that on the whole, college students manage to graduate, get jobs, and keep them (or at least not lose them because they are poor writers). People figure out what they need to figure out. We can undoubtedly help more students be more successful with a better-informed approach to this pedagogical task, but none of that is likely to change the views of professors and corporate officers about their students and employees.

 

Resilience

I have read a few posts this week that talked about resilience. Perhaps the most powerful was a post written a few months ago by Shelley Wright. I have followed Shelley’s amazing blog for awhile, and recently she began posting again. I met Shelley briefly a few years ago at the National Congress on Rural Education, and she has written a few powerful and emotional posts lately. I certainly wish her the best. In one of these posts, she wrote;

We need to help kids develop resilience.  They need to wrestle with problems. They need to to fail. They need to persevere.  They need to be faced with many questions or problems that have no one right answer.  Or maybe are to big to answer. Some of these problems, like social justice issues, should be so big and passionate they hurt. And they make you cry. Because you need to be able to hurt and get up again.

Her blog is worth following, and please read her latest.