Live 2 Learn

A few thoughts and ideas

Professional Status of Teachers in Queensland

TeacherFor a long time in Queensland the professional standard and standing of teachers has been compromised by the very silly situation where teachers in primary and middle schools can be qualified to take up general teaching duties where they teach students in literacy, numeracy, arts, sciences and the humanities with an entry to their university training only requiring a pass in English. I’ve heard today that over the next couple of years the requirements will be for trainee teachers to have a pass in English, maths, and science. This is good news and gives hope for the increased professionalisation of teaching in this state. I look forward to Queensland improving its teaching capacity and professional standards over the next few years.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Do we need coding in school?

MatrixIn a recent Guardian article (See Here) John Naughton gives us some ideas about how to approach the problem of educating our kids in the technology saturated world that is only going to get more-so in the future. A great deal of what Naughton says I agree with but he then resorts to some good old-fashioned rallying cry stuff like 
”The biggest justification for change is not economic but moral. It is that if we don’t act now we will be short-changing our children. They live in a world that is shaped by physics, chemistry, biology and history, and so we, quite rightly, want them to understand these things. But their world will be also shaped and configured by networked computing and if they don’t have a deeper understanding of this stuff then they will effectively be intellectually crippled. They will grow up as passive consumers of closed devices and services, leading lives that are increasingly circumscribed by technologies created by elites working for huge corporations such as Google, Facebook and the like. We will, in effect, be breeding generations of hamsters for the glittering wheels of cages built by Mark Zuckerberg and his kind.” Read More

Knowing, understanding and create optimistic futures through the Habits of Mind

This is a short article I wrote for my school magazine. I hope you find it interesting. 
As the needs of our society have changed, so the level of expected intellectual ability required by people to enable them to be successful has risen. Prior to the industrial age it was sufficient to learn a process or job that you would have for whole of your working life. This job was likely to be similar to that done by your parents and grandparents throughout their working life. Later, during the industrial age, the primary concern was production, with workers being selected (and socially ranked into classes) based on their ability to read, memorise and use a large number of recognised facts. As time has gone on, society moved from the industrial to the information age. With this change the ability to learn and remember facts has given way to a much more important need for understanding. So what are the characteristics we now need to develop in our students to ensure they have a good chance at a successful, productive and satisfying life? Read More

Some thoughts on the effects of ICT on our society

Now I love technology, but the following is related to an email I received from one of my colleagues who is similarly technological but yet concerned with detrimental effects of modern technology use on our students. This is an email I was writing to him in response. It’s a bit rough and needs more work but contains some important thoughts (if I may say so!!)

Computers and phones in bedrooms will become more and more of a problem. I think a large number (I would guess the majority) of parents have no idea what their kids are up to online. I have always told parents in newsletters and meetings to have the computer in a family area and to make bedrooms a technology free zone where possible. I also tell them to set up these expectations early as it is harder to convince a Secondary age child than a Primary child of where the computers in the house should be. Read More

Teaching is a bit like torture!

As I was driving to work today, I had a thought. Teaching is a bit like the act of torture, the principle is exactly the same.

When you torture someone you inflict a level of pain to effect a confession or extract information. In both cases the level of pain needs to be just enough, but not too much. Too little and the victim will be able to suffer the discomfort, too much and the victim will either lapse into unconsciousness or expire – both of little use to the torturer.

When we teach, both the appreciation of the student’s readiness to learn and the design of the lesson have the quality of enough but not too much. The students level of readiness and the appropriate teaching strategy needs to be explored, much as the wiggling finger of pressure on a pressure point seeks first to discover just the right place and then to judge the right level of pressure to bring about the squirming of the victim without causing a complete faint.

With ill-judged application of our teaching methods or incorrect analysis of our students’ readiness to learn (another way of describing the Zone of Proximal Development) we will either fail to interest students due to pitching our instruction too low or cause our students to disengage by overwhelming them with expectations of their learning that are far too high.

Teaching is hard and needs to be precise. Much like the torturer we need to study our methods and try some new ways. Just make sure that not too many of your victims expire before you get some learning happening.