Is Your Education Relevant?

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These are a series of quotes from grade 12 English students working towards their university academic English credit:

The current method of teaching lacks in interest and creativity, which is what a lot of adolescents want in their lives. Every class is the same thing throughout the day: sit down in a desk, listen to a lesson taught by your teacher, and then do questions and assignments that relate to the material just taught.

Classrooms need to incorporate the other methods of teaching (Kinesthetic and visual). Kinesthetic (Physical) almost does not exist, except for in tech classes, and visual seems to disappear after elementary school.

One of the most frustrating things as a student is to watch a teacher talk and not be able to listen (whether through concentration or otherwise). As a student with an adolescent brain there is nothing I dislike more than sitting in class bored and struggling to pay attention to learn something.

Students can only learn so much sitting at a desk for one hundred and ninety-five days a year, five days a week, and six and a half hours a day. 

Classes should not be restricted to a blackboard, pencil, and paper. It is simply just boring.

In order for students to reach their full potential, they must be intrigued with what they are learning. In my opinion, nothing is worse than trying to understand and memorize something that I have absolutely no enthusiasm or care for. Teachers should try and make lessons and assignments exciting and relevant to adolescents by utilizing tools such as YouTube videos, Smart Boards, power points, group work, class discussions, and even just going outside on a nice day. The more relaxed, interested, and happy adolescents are, the more open to learning their minds will be.

Schools should have programs in place to enhance self-esteem, self-awareness and social interaction. There should be a way for students to take risks academically to push them beyond what they have done before in a relatively safe way.

It would be wonderful if students could have input as to which classes that could  be created, and if enough students want to take that class ‒ and a teacher could share the knowledge to eager adolescent brains wanting to learn the material.

What do you think?

A new documentary on the War of 1812: A Desert Between Us & Them

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The plot outline from the Facebook page: A Desert Between Us & Them: Raiders, Traitors & Refugees in the War of 1812 will tell the little-known story of the devastating effect the War of 1812 had upon the Upper Canadian peninsula (now Southwestern Ontario), with a focus on what life was like for people on the ground. Residents were faced with numerous American raids, constant pressure to change one’s allegiance, a shortage of food, thousands of refugees on the muddy roads, and the eventual abandonment of Southwestern Ontario by the British Army. Most civilians in Canada didn’t experience the war directly, but for people in this area, the war came to their homes – sometimes repeatedly.

This was an exciting project that brought many volunteers and re-enactors together (more than 300 people came out over 550 times) over 30 days of production filming. This was the story of how the war affected the residents of southern Ontario – their homes were burned, their food and livestock stolen – they became refugees!!

Watch for the launch of this new documentary this summer. For those of you who are educators, it will be a perfect movie to show during a school assembly and an essential part of the school’s media library. The documentary will be available from the Visual Heritage site.

Creativity


According to a review commissioned by The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, the following five elements are important for encouraging creativity:
1. Knowledge
a) Deep, extensive knowledge of the domain
b) Broad knowledge of many different areas
2. Creative thinking skills
a) Synthetic: Combining existing knowledge or understanding in new ways,
often through many attempts of which only a few are successful
b) Analytical: Ability to judge one’s own ideas
c) Practical: Ability to promote creative ideas
3. Motivation
a) Curiosity
b) Intrinsic interest
c) Perseverance (delayed gratification)
d) Willingness to take risks
e) Comfort with ambiguity
4. Metacognition
a) Explicit decision to be creative
b) Knowing about creativity (i.e., all of the above)
5. Environment
a) Non-controlling (risk taking and unconventional solutions rewarded rather
than sanctioned)
b) Non-threatening (intrinsic incentives vs. extrinsic rewards or threats)
Source: Adams, K. (2005, September). The sources of innovation and creativity. Paper commissioned by the National Center
on Education and the Economy for the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Washington, DC: National
Center on Education and the Economy


Learning through Hip Hop

A surgeon shows, through functional MRI imaging, that during improvisation the brain is working on many important levels, unlike when someone is using memorized material. Creativity is a neurological process that can be measured and this experiment measured brain activity while musicians were playing or rapping – comparing improvised jazz keyboard playing and hip hop rapping. The experimental question was: What happens in the brain during something that’s memorized and over-learned, and what happens in the brain during something that is spontaneously generated, or improvised, in a way that’s matched motorically and in terms of lower-level sensory motor features?

So if the brain is engaged on many levels during improv vs memorizing, then students should not be memorizing content. Why invest precious classroom time in a strategy that simply does not benefit the student? This speaks to the importance of learning through creativity, self-direction and discovery.