Students are taking to social media in droves to protest mandatory in-class presentations. Citing discrimination, they’re calling for alternatives to public speaking, especially for those individuals with anxiety.
Should public speaking be abolished from education?
According to a recent article in the Atlantic, over 90% of hiring managers say that oral communication is an essential skill in the business world. Educators feel that public speaking builds confidence, improves critical thinking, and teaches debating skills.
Traditionally, public speaking has been feared more than death. High school students are especially susceptible to presentation anxiety because it often takes place in front of their peers during a vulnerable time in their lives. A presentation that goes sideways could cause intense fear and anxiety.
Is this good or bad?
If public education’s main job is to prepare student’s for the world, then it would make perfect sense to continue to have kids practice public speaking throughout their schooling. Educational institutions are designed to be places of practice and learning that are sheltered from the harsh realities of the ‘real world’. If students can’t face their fears in this protected environment it's highly unlikely they’ll be able to manage a presentation in a business setting.
Safeyism (the idea that we’re over protecting our children) and anxiety are very real problems in education today. It’s unfortunate that they happen to be polar opposites. Perhaps a hybrid approach to public speaking is the most effective way to keep it in schools (having kids present in smaller groups first in an example).
In a world where populism is favored over expertise, it would be a disaster to abandon our ability to converse using oral communication.
Seth’s blog today talks about the importance of doing in the effort of learning something. This is a fundamental principal that sometimes gets confused when we’re in prusuit of a new goal.
So many of us can watch some YouTube videos and have the confidence to be the next president or knowledge to understand the dynamics of a complex economic and political system.
The trouble is that experience is still the king when it comes to learning. You can’t swim by reading books or watching videos. Even advanced scientific theories have no credibility without experimental evidence backing them up.
How many of you are teaching innovation without experimentation in your classes?
Never under estimate the educational value of turning over a log to learn about habitats or programming a Sphero to reinforce computational thinking.
...is to understand that your job or career or goal requires you to keep showing up regardless of how you feel. Putting in your best effort each and every day will build the grit required to to great work. There must have been days when Michelangelo wasn’t jazzed about chipping away marble for hours at a time. He did it though and now we have David.
If you find yourself making the type of excuses that prevent you from showing up, then you may need to rethink your job or career or goal.
In 1955 the average child spent 2-3 hours outdoors every day. Rain and snow forced some inside down into the basements of friends to build forts, play board games and generally horse around. When outside, kids made tree houses, played war games, hung upside down on monkey bars and rolled through the streets on their bicycles. This was all without parental supervision.
In 2018, the time kids play outdoors without supervision has shrunk to almost zero. Those kids who are granted freedom, typically have tight restrictions on where they can go and generally come from homes with single parents who work.
Time in school and homework has increased exponentially as well. Homework is assigned in kindergarten and increases steadily until high school.
Kids are now spending more time in structured play. Sports, music, art, dance and play dates are all organized, supervised and facilitated by adults.
What are the benefits and consequences of a reduction in free play?
First the good.
Childhood injury and accidental mortality are at an all-time low. Supervising adults are able to intervene in risky behaviour early enough to prevent minor and serious injuries.
Kids are becoming highly specialized at an increasingly younger age. Most NHL players being drafted now played only hockey growing up and did it throughout the entire year. The result is an NHL that contains a historically high level of skill, speed, and size. The same can be applied for almost all professional sports.
Adult-child relationships are the strongest in recorded history. Kids now see adults as partners, leaders, and coaches instead of authority figures. Increased corporation between adults and children has led to more supportive and productive households. Teenagers are confiding their problems to their parents which allows for early interventions.
Unfortunately, all of these benefits do come at a cost.
Diagnosis of childhood anxiety and depression are the highest they have ever been. The attempted suicide rate for children and teens has more than quadrupled since 1955. Young adults ability to cope with setbacks in life has caused a monumental shift in culture at post-secondary institutions. Onsite school therapists are overwhelmed with students seeking support. Some statistics show that over 50% of all university students are diagnosed with either anxiety or depression at some point in their schooling. The course curriculum has changed to offer ‘trigger warnings’ for sensitive content that may potentially upset some students.
In the younger grades, children are increasingly requiring adult intervention to solve interpersonal problems and structure their day. When offered unstructured time in school to solve a problem or create something new, students constantly require feedback and details for the outcome (ex. How do I get an ‘A’?).
The message to push through the tough times and use ‘grit’ has mostly fallen on deaf ears because educators are increasingly finding it difficult to find the balance between safety and uncomfortableness in their classrooms. Living increasingly structured lives has reduced the ability for kids to learn appropriate self-initiative skills that can be found when setting up a game or solving a problem amongst themselves on the playground.
It appears that Steven Pinker was absolutely correct when he tells us in his book ‘Better Angels of Our Nature’ that the world is safer, healthier and smarter. It’s impossible to predict what the future holds for a generation of kids who don't get to play very often.
However, it does seem to be an important step in development for children (and adults).
What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
Are the titles interchangeable?
Traditionally, managers were the people who kept the systems running. They made sure the work was done on time and with the best quality possible. Managers trained, supported and praised workers to ensure that the widget was built correctly. You earned a management title when you had enough experience and intelligence to effectively keep the systems running.
Leaders were visionaries. They took risks and led from the front. Leaders didn’t necessarily have to be the person at the top of the hierarchy. It was awarded to anyone willing to inspire others to follow them into potentially dangerous situations with the hope of coming out better on the other side.
Sometimes in education, we get the titles mixed up. We tell students to be leaders but really we want them to be managers. Great managers get the student council running properly, they keep track of all their school work and submit it on time with their best effort, and they support their peers so that the whole system works better.
Leaders push the boundaries of their education. They look for alternative ways to solve problems, they write controversial essays, and they seek out new ways to improve their school. They take risks and own up to their failures. They push for change.
When you’re evaluating someone’s leadership abilities, make sure you’re not mistaking them for a manager.
The original definition of trauma included only physical damage to a human being. Blunt force trauma was the result of an injury due to a motor vehicle accident or other non- penetrating wound suffered by an individual. That word has evolved over the years to include mental damage. The most famous being PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD occurs when a person is exposed to a highly stressful situation such as a war zone or a natural disaster. People diagnosed with this condition find themselves locked into a highly altered state and are generally unable to disconnect from their experience even though the threat has been removed. In the old days of WW1 and WW2, it was called shell shock.
PTSD is a very important adaptation for human beings. Evolution carefully crafted this condition in us back during a time where the world was ripe with danger. PTSD allows humans to maintain a highly alert state which clearly would have positive survival benefits if you had just witnessed a saber-tooth tiger attack your tribe.
Today soldiers in war zones and EMS workers are the most likely to experience a diagnosis of PTSD. What is interesting is that when help is received, there’s over a 90% chance of recovery.
Humans are resilient.
If our mental recovery from very traumatic events is possible, why is that we spend some much time and effort ensuring that children are shielded from events that may trigger negative emotions?
Failure and criticism are non-existent in elementary education and quickly fading in high-school and university. It’s clear that teaching resilience and grit requires students to embrace pressure and possibly failure.
Individuals who recover from PTSD often report living happier lives than before the traumatic incident. Recognizing that life is fragile, taking pleasure in the small things, and focusing on interpersonal relationships are the main reasons why PTSD patients are happier.
Humans have complex stress systems built into our anatomy. We’re designed to be stressed and recover. Look at someone who lies in bed all day. Their physical bodies begin to atrophy. The only way to maintain a healthy body is to put it under some form of physical stress.
Our minds are no different.
Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) is Canada’s version of the Navy Seals. They’re elite military operators whose skill sets range from training locals in the art of insurgent warfare to jumping out of planes behind enemy lines. They can fight in the desert, the arctic and under water. Unlike America’s special forces who can field highly specialized Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Green Berets, and Airforce Combat Controllers, the JTF2 are Canada’s only special force and need to be able to fight on land, sea and in the air, alone. Essentially, they’re the jack-of-all trades and they’re really good at what they do.
The challenge with being a one stop shop for national defence is that you can’t be an expert in everything. If you spend too much time training for underwater operations than you’re bound to miss out on important training for air insertion.
So how does JTF2 train to be an effective fighting unit that is coherent in all areas of the battle space without being an expert in every area?
Instead of being the best in one area, they learn to be really good in all areas. More importantly, they practice extreme flexibility. When they enter into dangerous combat zones, they’re acutely aware that they’re not experts in everything. They work together to minimize the risk and maximize success knowing that their skills may not be perfectly polished. This happens though detailed planning, having access to the best equipment possible and the understanding that failing to use their strengths is worse than overestimating their weaknesses.
Extreme flexibility is a differentiating asset in a world where specialization is the norm. Kids are taught to be the best at a sport, a subject in school or an art. Nobody today is willing to settle for above average. The issue is that being above average at sports, school AND arts makes you far more versatile in a world of change than someone who has placed all their eggs in one basket.
Understanding your strengths and embracing your weaknesses gives you the needed insight to perform in areas of unknown. The JTF2 prepare as best as possible but know that their strength lies in extreme flexibility.
The next time you have the opportunity to participate in something you’re not an expert in, dive in guns blazing and embrace your weaknesses. It will only serve to make you extremely flexible.
The purpose of education is to prepare an individual to reach their highest potential – to flourish. One characteristic of this philosophy is the idea that the student should be capable of independence. Individual autonomy promotes the critical capacity to make good decisions, independent of the beliefs of a group or religion. Home schooling may cover the curriculum of a pragmatist philosophy on education, but does it truly create individual autonomy independent of any religious or social biases?
Children who are educated in the home or in small groups under a religious doctrine (ex. Amish) are at greater risk of misrepresenting their view of autonomy. A student who is home schooled by their parents may receive a high-quality education similar to that set out by the state. However, a large portion of their education in social interaction may go unlearned. This subtle, yet extremely important, piece of the education puzzle could have severe repercussions for a home schooled student later in life.
In On Education, Brighouse argues that true autonomy involves the ability to determine one’s own values. In home schooled situations, values may be imposed directly, or indirectly, limiting a child’s ability to decide their own views. For example, an Amish child may grow up to misrepresent modern social values as ‘evil’ or ‘ungodly’ simply because they had Amish values imposed on them from an early age. High attrition rates by young Amish are a great example of what can result when autonomy is not a primary focus of education.
As an educator it is important to understand that a single-focused education in any area of schooling can lead to the development of homogeneous beliefs. It isn’t a teacher’s job to expose children to every possible religious or educational view. However, it is necessary to guide students to understand that the concept of choice is essential in the idea of individual autonomy.
Teachers must promote critical thinking skills in all aspects of school. It is also essential to promote social interaction among students so that individual views and experiences can be shared. The idea that thinking critically about their own beliefs while taking into account the views of others, is essential in developing autonomy. A home schooled student would not have the luxury of social interaction with various view points and could disagree with or oppress other peoples viewpoints in social interaction.
The philosopher Daniel Dennett argues that in the case of religion, children should be taught the history and beliefs of all religions. Then they should be allowed to make decisions without the influence of parents, teachers or religious leaders. In his book, Breaking the Spell, Dennett states that religious indoctrination can poison all of society. Although his thesis is religiously based, it certainly applies to the concept of schooling and autonomy. Children should be allowed to explore many different belief systems, viewpoints and religions and be given the ability to decide a value system for themselves. This is an ideal theory and difficult to represent in the real world because almost certainly everyone will be influenced by someone and in the case of children, they receive the strongest influence from their parents. However, the idea that a teacher can foster children to witness different viewpoints is essential in the development of autonomy.
Home schooling is a moral issue that deals with a student’s ability to function as an autonomous member of society. Although publicly schooled and home schooled students may share the same skill set, the home schooled child may lag in social maturity. This social education is a key element to become truly autonomous. Without it, a student my not be able to flourish.
For those who are a fan of the classics, you know that education has its foundation in both Plato and Aristotle’s philosophies on well being. Plato's famous cave analogy tells us that real learning occurs when we open our minds and assume that what we see, hear, feel and believe are just shadows. The mind can grow through the investigation of ideas by peeling back the dark vale that covers them. A modern view of this philosophy can be found in Steven Pinker’s book - The Blank Slate. He uses a science-based approach to contend that we’re all born hard-wired with plenty of knowledge. Much of this knowledge comes to the foreground when we mix it with experience. A great example is the acquisition of language. It appears that we’re born with the ability to communicate already mapped on our brains. Once we’re exposed to language, we seem to be able to fill in multiple gaps quickly. Our ability to infer seems to have been pre-installed at birth.
Aristotle believed that we learned best by interacting with knowledge. Our minds are empty vessels that can be filled to the brim with new ideas. Essentially anyone can learn anything as long as their brain is open and ready to save the knowledge.
The traditional industrial style classroom leaned more on the Aristotle approach with it’s desks in rows and reinforcement of mathematical facts. Obedience was the key to learning. Follow the instructions and you will acquire the knowledge required to live a well-balanced for fulfilling life.
In today’s classroom you’ll find a far more Platonic approach to education. The inquiry method of teaching is nothing more than Plato’s theory put into action.
It’s interesting to note that only a brief moment of teacher education is dedicated philosophical education, and in the classroom almost nobody talks about either Plato or Socrates when asked about their teaching pedagogy.
Other than the risk of sounding archaic, many educators are likely unaware that they’re facilitating in this ancient theory of teaching. Instead they can confidently articulate their educational approach by reciting important terms such as ‘personalization, flipped-classroom, deep learning, wellness’ and many others. It is possible for a teacher to speak a sentence with so much educational jargon, even a Rhodes scholar might be confused.
“By flipping my classroom, I’ve been able to take a personalized approach to teaching thus enabling my students to engage in deep learning with a growth mindset.”
While this certainly sounds impressive, it’s covering up the core principals that both Plato and Aristotle preached about many years ago. The goal of education at any level should be to improve eudaemonia - the idea of human flourishing. In an educational setting, the tactics of achieving this goal (see the post below) are not as relevant as the strategy of developing competent, capable and critical thinkers.
Whether you’re using personalized learning, flipped classrooms or have a focus on wellness, the goal is to either fill the students head with new information or expose her to new ideas that will allow her to learn independently.
As a supplement to a blog post below, I have created slidecast that was given to the senior school . In the talk, you'll learn why fear and failure are keeping you from aiming high and being a better person.
Podcast version available here.
Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the Labyrinth. But the great craftsman's genius would not suffer captivity. He made two pairs of wings by adhering feathers to a wooden frame with wax. Giving one pair to his son, he cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. But Icarus became ecstatic with the ability to fly and forgot his father's warning. The feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea.
What’s the lesson here? Don’t disobey the leader. Listen to what your parents say. Don’t try to imagine that you’re better than you are. Fall into the box that society puts you in. Don’t dream big.
I think that’s dead wrong.
It’s interesting to note that in the modern version of the story, the part about flying too low has been purposely left out. Seth Godin believes it was a result of the industrialization of education and need for competent workers.
What happens if you fly too high?
You get burned. You fail. You get embarrassed.
When teachers are asked wha the biggest thing wrong with education today, do you know what that almost all of them say?
We’re not teaching students to fail properly. Note the word properly. Is there a proper way to fail? That’s what we’re going to look at right now. The goal of every educator should be to have students walk out of the class each day with the knowledge of what it means to fail. Knowing this allows them to aim high.
Would Icarus would still fly close to the sun if given a second chance? Yes! Why? Because, well, you already know. Who wants to live a boring, play by the rules life?
Just check out your snaps, Instagram and other social media feeds. NOBODY puts anything online about an average day. Here I am, eating lunch or studying. People have the natural desire to showcase themselves flying high. What they don't show is the failure.
That's arguable the most important part.
Easter Island is the true story that Dr. Suess might have based the book 'The Lorax' on.
It was home to a successful community for many generations. Over time, the limited resources on this isolated island began to disappear until one day, 'chop!' the last tree went down.
Jared Diamond makes the story real in his brilliant article and book (thanks Seth Godin for linking this!).
The question we could ask is: Who were the people that warned everyone about the pending crisis?
Someone must have known about the potential danger, right?
It's possible that the entire community was suffering from co-pilot syndrome. It's the condition where the co-pilot doesn't mention any potential danger to the flight crew because he or she feels that speaking up might disrupt the deeply taught culture of chain of command. Experienced pilots never make mistakes, especially obvious ones. Speaking up against them could get you in big trouble. So the co-pilot says nothing and the result can be disastrous.
Perhaps the community on Easter Island was based on this premise. Of course the leaders have a plan for the disappearing resources. Speaking out against the plan could get you banished and that's not a good place to be on an isolated Island in crisis.
Where in our culture do you see this type of behaviour? Do you feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting if you're on of the junior team members? Do you automatically assume that experienced leaders will always have it right? It sounds silly to think that way, but watch out, you might already be doing it.
With a massive environmental catastrophe on the horizon, we can't wait to act. We need to speak up now.
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Rage is a negative emotion. It can cause physical harm to others. The perpetrator may miss social cues and have temporary memory loss. The raging individual may resort to barbaric decision making. They will put all physical and mental effort into the source of anger until exhausted. Rage is a dynamic moment-to-moment experience.
Taken from Wikipedia:
A person in a state of rage may also lose much of their capacity for rational thought and reasoning, and may act, usually violently, on their impulses to the point that they may attack until they themselves have been incapacitated or the source of their rage has been destroyed. A person in rage may also experience tunnel vision, muffled hearing, increased heart rate, and hyperventilation. Their vision may also become "rose-tinted" (hence "seeing red"). They often focus only on the source of their anger. The large amounts of adrenaline and oxygen in the bloodstream may cause a person's extremities to shake. Psychiatrists consider rage to be at one end of the spectrum of anger, and annoyance to be at the other side.
Toddlers often to explode into fits of rage when things don’t go their way. They’re still learning to control emotions effectively and their frontal cortex doesn’t have enough experience to convince the brainstem - or lizard part of our brain - to cease rage and negotiate. That comes with a better understanding of the world.
When someone talks about the perfect life, they often exclude rage. Every happy person would expect rage to disappear if given the choice. Nobody really looks forward to rage-induced anger. It’s unlikely anyone looks forward to rage.
Why then is it part of our emotional network? What value, if any, does it offer?
In a world of increasing safety, protection and shelter - especially with children - rage can offer some insight into the emotional connection one has to a situation. We often mistake the people who undertake mass shootings as angry rage-filled individuals. Unfortunately, in almost all of the recent US mass shootings, witnesses suggest that the killers exhibited a cold calculated approach to their evil deed. There was a focus, a purpose an anger associated with their actions, but it was not emotionally-induced rage (and certainly not what Dylan Thomas was talking about).
Instead rage is a result of a negative experience related to caring. People are often thrown into ‘fits of rage’ after something has been taken from them or someone they know or love has been hurt. Steve jobs famously broke into a ‘corporate’ rage when, after the first launch of the iPhone 1, the mail server didn’t work. He was angry because he knew the importance of launching a perfect iPhone. He knew what as stake. He cared.
Danger lurks when people show indifference to failure or misfortune. If you get into an argument with someone and they shrug it off as no big deal, it means they really don’t care (or doing an amazing job hiding it). If you don’t care, you’re not concerned about the outcome. Indifference can lead to stagnation.
When you fail, you should certainly feel something. The stronger that emotional experience, the more that it means to you. Pay attention to this. It can be a beacon that guides you on on your way to greater success.
In a recent coding event in Saskatoon, Brad Carter, development executive from Apple Education, suggested that computational thinking needs to be considered the fourth ‘R’ after reading, writing and arithmetic. The reason, he argues, is that the digital landscape has grown so intensely students will need a proper skill set to navigate it effectively. With mobile devices increasingly controlling most of our interactions, we’re putting much of our faith into coders who fall into a fairly specific demographic - namely the traditional white male programmer who has more in common with the Google founders than end users. Brad suggests that diversifying the coding world with more females and minorities will undoubtably improve the technological landscape. This is why we need to start programming at a young age and promote it directly to the underrepresented.
It’s highly unlikely that we’re on the verge of a global technological collapse at the hands of white male programmers. Only a minimum of economic knowledge is required to understand that the marketplace of apps is rich in choice and covers a vast variety of markets. Most demographics are served well and it’s difficult to sense any grand injustice or exploitation at an underrepresented population. Generally speaking, the market is thriving.
Instead of promoting coding to girls with the purpose of increasing the number hard code developers, why not use it as motivation to empower everyone to become literate in a world drowning in technology? Pushing buttons, opening a website and sending Snaps does not make someone technologically literate. A well educated individual who is competent in that fourth ‘R’ understands the motivation for a company to design, code and sell an app. This will undoubtably influence their purchase and/or use of any application. For example, if a competent coder was able to recognize that an app like Facebook was making money off of posted pictures by running a sneaky algorithm on every upload, then the user might make a better decision on what type of photos to share. One might simply declare this as critical thinking, but it’s deeper than that. Only an experienced programmer would be able to recognize the framework where background programs could exploit. Critical thinking can raise the initial questions and concerns. However, only a critical thinking individual exposed to coding could understand the red flags.
Competent, tech savvy, experienced coders in mass numbers across many demographics would most certainly influence the technological landscape in the long run. A diverse set of ideas may not drastically improve the programming marketplace, however, it will push the innovation of technology to new heights by offering different ideas and perspectives. We’ve only started to scratch the surface of technological potential (and will continue to do so regardless of who codes). With effective virtual reality, nanotechnology and AI around the corner, we’re going to need those diverse opinions.
Lets get coding!
43% of new graduates are holding jobs that are outside of their post-secondary education. Even scarier is that these jobs are often low paying and hold very little opportunity for advancement. Everyone has heard about the Starbuck's barista who has 2 masters degrees in English Literature but can’t find a ‘real job’.
Why is this happening?
We’re stuck in this belief that education will always grant us opportunity. The more we have, the safer more secure we are. It’s dead wrong. Ask an MBA who can’t find a job in marketing and can barely make their rent how education is doing for them. Ask the Lawyer who’s passed the bar but swimming in debt all while working insane hours how that extra education is making feel comfortable.
It’s our job to build a culture of entrepreneurship in schools to help prepare students for a world with infinite opportunity and (paradoxically) zero guarantees.
Now that winter has arrived in southern Ontario, we can expect to spend the next 3 or 4 months covered in a pasty layer of white salty mess. The first usage of salt on roads was by Detroit in 1940. Salt was used because a large deposit was discovered in the Detroit area in 1914. Salt was found to be more effective than sand for improving traction on roads. A 1992 study conducted by Marquette University in Wisconsin found that road salt reduced crashes by 88 percent, injuries by 85 percent, and accident costs by 85 percent.
Today salt isn’t just used on roads. It’s found on sidewalks, driveways, wheelchair ramps, parking lots and playgrounds. It’s become the de facto safety measure when winter strikes.
The problem is that in almost all cases, too much salt is used. Salt is most effective on cold dry winter surfaces that are covered in ice. If conditions are too wet, the salt dissolves and becomes useless. Too much snow and the salt melts to the surface rendering it useless. Yet, you see the salt truck out spreading it’s load on wet road. The maintenance company spreads so much salt in the mall parking lot that it crunches as you walk by.
Salt is an oxidant speeding up the rusting of metal on your car. It stains fabric, turning those Uggs from beige to cream coloured.
Salt gives us grip. It helps us because we don’t slip, fall and possibly hurt ourselves.
What happens if a spot gets missed and a thin layer of black ice forms on the sidewalk? It’s likely that we’ll slip. We’re not used to walking on ice.
What if one day the world runs out of salt? Will cold climates descend into chaos? Unlikely. We’ll probably learn how to walk on ice. We’ll take our time, maybe even help each other. We may fall, but over time we’ll learn how to fall properly. We’ll become good at walking on ice.
How much salt are you laying down in your classrooms or even as a parent?
The interesting thing about predicting the future is that it’s ALWAYS a gamble. You may guess correctly, but it’s far more likely that you’ll guess the opposite and be completely wrong. In the late 90s during the first dot com boom, business students were told that unless they understood how to code a website using html, they’ll be left behind.
That, of course, never happened. Neither did the idea the internet was a fad or Amazon would never make money.
In education it becomes even more of a gamble when you try to guess the future, especially in the context of technology. If you guess incorrectly, you may send a student into the world with an incorrect or inappropriate skill set. The predicting is the most dangerous when you judge the usefulness of new technology.
The paper never ran out.
Tablet and smart phone technology has become increasingly important in education.
Access to the web has become a fundamental human right.
Rather, technology seems to shape us quickly, intensely and permanently. Think of Facebook. Nobody really resisted Facebook, they just didn’t understand how to use it. Once it’s critical mass hit, it went gangbusters. Now there’s so much noise on a person’s Facebook feed, it’s essentially impossible to read it all.
If, as an educator, you dismiss technology as useless you run the danger of being over run by students who are more capable then you because they embraced it.
The person who thought that slate was never going away became outdated and expendable very quickly. The teacher who saw the potential of paper and began to use in their classes saw the realized potential very quickly.
Which teacher do you want to be?
How do I feel?
Am I interested?
Can I do this?
The answers to these 3 questions determine our effort, motivation and commitment when facing new challenges. People often let their subconscious answer the questions which can lead to excuses avoidance and, in a worse case scenario, lies.
The next time you’re faced with a new challenge or experience, consciously make the effort to ask yourself these important questions. You may be shocked by how much your answer differs from your subconscious!
"A great teacher is smart enough and connected enough to run an interactive conversation, a participatory seminar in the concepts that need to be learned. We shouldn’t even consider wasting a professor’s time on real-time monologues.”
Seth Godin recently contended that college and university lectures are an expensive, archaic way of disseminating information to students. Data suggests that students who listen and take notes on laptops don’t do any better than those who write by hand. Seth goes one step further and questions why live lectures are happening at all. With cheap access to good technology at an all time high, professors should be filming their lectures and putting them online for free. Students can watch the lectures at their own pace and can re-watch them for increased value.
In K-12 education we call this a flipped classroom. Students watch the lesson prior to class and use the scheduled class time to review homework, work in small groups and use their new found knowledge to investigate interesting problems. It’s a wonderful way to organize a course and works exceptionally well in technical classes such as math and science.
However, there are some downsides. Flipping a classroom puts extra pressure on students to come to class having spent a significant time learning and watching on their own. In an increasingly busy and stressful world, students are struggling to keep up in a traditional schooling system. What happens when a student misses one or two lectures in a flipped class? They’ll show up and be completely lost. Yes, they can spend the class time watching the lecture, but it’s still a net loss because the other students will have had an opportunity to practice and use their knowledge. What if the student misses a few lessons in a row? It could be devastating.
A hybrid method would likely be more effective. Film the lectures and lessons as they happen with all the students present. Most modern elementary and secondary classes don’t have 60+ minute lectures anyway. Plenty of time is given for students to practice immediately after they’ve learned. Ideally, the teacher would film the lesson and have it available instantly so that students who need to review could do so at their own pace without requiring the teachers attention (a la asking questions).
The reality is Seth is totally right. School is becoming very expensive and the information that the teachers and professors is increasingly becoming a commodity (see YouTube on any educational topic). In his AltMBA, Seth has students work together and review each others work at a pace that is intense. At the end of the day, his students are making art, putting it into the world, having it critiqued and revising it. This is where the real learning happens!
The slide-cast version (with slides) of a chapel talk I did on November 20, 2017. Approximately 700 students from K-12 were in attendance to hear the importance of setting goals and making sacrifices to achieve them.