Professional Comfort Zone? « My Island View

I agree that we need to be patient and help educators along, but let us not forget who this education system is for. It is for the students. They are the learners that we must address as the focus of education. It is the comfort of the students with which we need to be concerned. It will always be the skills which students need, that must be the key to education. The tools of learning that kids need to master should be our main concern. Some teachers will never be comfortable with Technology and we must accept that. I was engaged in these very same arguments in the 80’s. We must however keep trying to engage them to engage. It is professional, as an educator, to be relevant. It is professional as an educator to be a learner. It is professional as an educator to be professional.

We are not educators to teach kids within the limits of our comfort zones. Hell, I grew up in the 50’s; my comfort zone no longer exists. As learners we need to move our comfort zones forward. We are teaching kids for their future not our past. (That is an oldie, but a goodie.) There is a place for blackboards, overheads, and even PowerPoint in education, but it is not where the focus of learning should rest. We need to prod and push people in the nicest of ways to strive forward. Yes, it would be counterproductive to overload them with the plethora of tools available today, but we need to move forward. That very same plethora will not go away in the future, it will grow. Standing in place is moving backwards in today’s technologically competitive culture.

I appreciate Andy’s concern for his colleagues. I agree with Andy’s approach to compassionate teaching. I part ways when it comes to placing the comforts of a few over the needs of the many, the students whom we have a responsibility to teach. We cannot be expected to be treated and respected as professionals unless we act professionally. Continuing to learn and to be relevant, as is required by our profession, is what we need to do as professionals.

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Some People LIKE Mathematics! (like me)

I’m really sick to death of everyone worrying about whether or not kids know how to multiply 6 by 4 and worried that no one seems to be concerned about whether or not kids know WHY we would want to multiply 6 by 4, and HOW this is useful in their actual lives. 

If you don’t think that we have a serious problem with numeracy (the ability to think mathematically and apply mathematics to different contexts), see this map of numeracy levels (including ALL adults aged 16 and older, so like all of you who learned mathematics the old way): http://www.ccl-cca.ca/cclflash/numeracy/map_canada_e.html

It paints a pretty scary picture of the problems in numeracy across Canada, in one of the best education systems in the world.

Maybe if we spent a lot more time doing engaging mathematics and applying what the kids learn in context, we might actually have a generation of people who USE mathematics, rather than a generation that complains about how awful math was when they grew up, and how horrible they were at it, but then asks their kids to do the same thing they did.

Some people actually LIKE mathematics, believe it or not.

Not optional anymore?

Our educational administrators however really need to get going on this.  Leaders right?  If teachers in your school or division see that you are not moving forward with some conviction in this area, why would they believe that there is any sense of urgency?  Why would teachers think this is important if our administrators aren’t modelling effective use? The teachers that are moving forward need you to understand this area and support them.  They don’t need you to be at the same level, but they at least need to know you trust them and will put the systems in place for them and more importantly, their students, to be successful.  Take some risks and model both in success and failure that you are a learner; this is what we expect from our students.

This post by George Couros raised a lot of conversation. He has some important things to say, and the folks commenting do as well, the post and comments provide a thought provoking read. What do you think? Is technology necessary for good teaching? Should administrators be using it , modeling and leading the way?

– if you know me, you know where I stand 🙂

Social Reproduction by Schooling

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photo from: www.flickr.com/photos/24707395@N02/2990237742/in/photostream/

Schooling is powerfully self-replicating, making almost all of us complicit in its protection of its own practices.

Everyone has an opinion about school. Most of us have critiques of school, and schools, and schooling. But no matter the critiques and the shifts – whole language through critical pedagogy to ed reform and a call for standardization – no matter the politics and policies and the thousands of good intentions and spirited efforts and debates, schools march on, surprisingly same from decade to decade.

This is an amazing & powerful post by bon stewart. I knew all about what she was writing about, but her personalization of the angst in her decision made the social reproduction of schools so painfully clear. Much food for thought in this honest post! I maintain an optimistic outlook on public education, I believe in public schools, but the slowness of change – and the feeling that ‘we’ (as educators) are often at the whim of forces we do not agree with (so called accountability via testing, for one) can be frustrating. I do think we need to keep working to improve educaiton & schooling. There are pockets of change and excellence, we need to see more of it. I encourage you to read & reflect on this post!

Technology – not just a tool

So the next time someone says technology is just a tool, I’d encourage you to probe more about what that means because too often it’s a way of downplaying the significant potential and shift of emerging technologies. 

via techlearning.com (post by Saskatchewan educator – & thinker, Dean Shareski)
A good, thoughtful post by Shareski, it recalls McLuhan’s famous aphorisms:
“The medim is the message” and “We shape pur tools, and afterwards, our tools shape us”. Yes, technology is a tool, it helps us to do certain tasks, yet it is more as well.
(this is an older post – just getting around to it now! – original from May 2011)

Marks & Grades

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But the professor is undeterred about those A-pluses: “Grades poison the educational environment,” he insists. “We’re training students to be obedient, and to try to read our minds, rather than being a catalyst for learning.

The article this quote came form is a little old (from Feb) but the point is still clear. What is the purpose of education? What role to grades serve?