Monday, December 7, 2015

Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms

Ken Robinson is a wonderful speaker, but I think tends to generalize.

"Every country on earth at the moment is reforming public education." - Simply not true, since not all the countries in the world have public education.

"The problem is that the current system of education was designed and conceived and structured for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual, culture of the enlightenment. And in the economic circumstances of the industrial revolution." - In my opinion, the current system of Western education goes back to Plato's The Republic

"And my view is that this model has caused chaos in many people's lives; it's been great for some, there have been people who have benefitted wonderfully from it. But most people have not. Instead they suffer this; this is the modern epidemic and it's as misplaced and as it’s fictitious. This is the plague of ADHD." - so, in essence, what is being say here is that non-academic people are being diagnosed as ADHD. I totally get what he is saying, but ADHD is a real and serious condition and it may be overdiagnosed in children, but may well be underdiagnosed in adults (Ginsberg, Quintero, Anand, Casillas, Upadhyaya, 2014). It could be genetic, it could be dopamine, allergies to junk being put into food, but it's definitely something more than being artistic.

"These kids are being medicated as routinely as we had our tonsils taken out. And on the same whimsical basis and for the same reason - medical fashion" - that is a crazy statement, it's not "whimsical", it's what the majority of doctors believe to be true. This is how science works, you work with what you know, and work on a hypothesis based on the evidence, and when new evidence comes along, you modify your hypothesis. Medicine doesn't know it all, nor does it pretend to; it does what it can with the best information it has, it's not whimsical, it's how all science works (read Kuhn or Lakatos).

"Our children are living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth." - I utterly disagree with this, for example, children who lived during the Hundred Years' War (from 1337 to 1453) would have found that way more stimulating, or if you lived in 1887 in China near the Yellow River you would be highly stimulated.

"It seems to me it's not a coincidence totally that the incidence of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth of standardised testing. " - !!!

"And aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you're present in the current moment, when you're resonating with the excitement of this thing that you're experiencing, when you're fully alive." - that sounds exactly what should be happening in a good classrooms -- no one is trying to stop children experience this, other than very bad teachers.

"Well I know kids who are much better than other kids at the same age in different disciplines, or at different times of the day, or better in smaller groups than in large groups, or sometimes they want to be on their own." -- easy to say, impossible to implement at the moment. Give a real practical alternative, or even the first steps to change the system.

"There was a great study done recently of divergent thinking" -  "Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today" by George Land and Beth Jarman was published in 1998 (so it's not that recent), it's a singe's a very good study, that asks interesting questions, but that's it. The divergent thinking issue needs multiple studies in multiple countries done by multiple researchers, to eliminate the fact that it might be an issue with with country's schooling system, or it might be cultural, or it might be something to do with the methodology being used.

"Divergent thinking isn't the same thing as creativity" - it's definitely not, it's not even 50% of creative thinking. If this argument is true, that schools are killing creativity, it would be reasonable to predict that since the implementation of this schooling system in the 1890s, the level of creativity has declined sharply, is that the case? Samuel Beckett was a product of that system, as was Haruki Murakami, as was Kingsley Amis, Gertrude Stein, Thomas Mann, Pablo Picasso, Tim Berners-Lee, Rosalind Franklin, Stephen Hawking, etc.

"And don't copy because that's cheating. Outside school that's called collaboration no but inside schools... " - come on, that's completely misleading, outside of school if you have a idea, and I steal it, that's intellectual property theft.

"Second, you have to recognise that most great learning happens in groups" - I don't agree, some people learn very well in groups, others learn better alone. using MBTI numbers, it might be 50/50.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Universal Design for Learning: Top Ten Tips (advanced)

Following on from the Top Ten UDL Tips for beginners, and Top Ten UDL Tips for intermediates, in this posting we'll look at the Top Ten Universal Design for Learning tips for advanced teachers, remembering that the ultimate goal is to ensure multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement:

Universal Design for Learning: Top Ten Intermediate Tips (Advanced)

1. Communicate high expectations to all students in your class. If you have accommodated all students, everyone should have an equal chance at success.

2. Upload your videos onto YouTube, and caption them.

3. When developing learning materials, in terms of the range of learners sensory preferences use the V-A-R-K Learning Styles model to create different types of learning materials and activities, e.g. PowerPoint, Podcasts, Pdfs, and Playdough

4. Learn more about the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

5. Pre-teach all symbols and unfamiliar vocabulary in an early class, and create a glossary booklet (with both text and visual descriptions) that you hand out at the start of the semester.

6. Consider the physical tasks that the students are required to do in class, find ways that you can provide alternatives in the requirements for speed, strength, timing, and range of these activities.

7. Create assessments so that the criteria to achieve a passing grade, a good grade, a very good grade, and an excellent grade are clearly articulated. Is it possible to provide alternative criteria for each level also?

8. Involve students as much as possible in setting their own learning goals.

9. When developing learning materials, in terms of the range of learners' cognitive preferences use Keirsey Temperament Sorter to create different types of learning materials and activities, e.g. create activities that include aspects of problem solving, planning, personal growth, and proficiency.

10. Create a series of supporting documents to increase students' independent learning skills and discipline-specific skills that they can access at their own rate.