The Change Power of Online Education

Of all the books on education that I’ve read in the last 9-10 years, few were more powerful than Dr Clayton Christensen’s “Disrupting Class”. Having read some of his more business-centric writings i was familiar with his concepts of ‘disruption’. However, what this book did was to really shed light on the ways in which ICT in education is not just going to be an incremental change agent, but will bring change on a vast scale.

Of course, its quite understandable that most educators are still failing to acknowledge this. By implications, what he writes about sees ‘traditional players’ wiped out because they are in denial and oblivious to the changes about to steam-roll them out of existence.

Here’s a good New York Times article, where Christensen update some of his ideas with particular reference to the US college system;

New York Times – Online education as an Agent of Transformation

One final thought – I feel anyone who believes that these changes are only going to be for colleges and the tertiary sector should think again!!

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John Holt & Sesame Street

For those educators who have never read John Holt’s books, I thoroughly recommend “How Children Learn” and “How Children Fail”. It’s some of the most sensitive and lucid writing on children and childhood you will find anywhere.

Holt passed away in 1985. He was no lover of schools and a great supporter of home schooling and ‘Unschooling’ movements. Tragically, when you read so many of his complaints against the school systems, you realise how little has changed since his time. How many educators applauded his wisdom, nodded their heads, but then failed to make the changes that were right for generations of children and learners.

A friend recently pointed me to a superb article written by Holt for The Atlantic back in 1971, in which he analysed shortcomings in the Sesame Street programmes for children;

The Atlantic – John Holt Article 1971

The reason i share it here is that I think it poses some fascinating questions for teachers, even today, about how they set up learning experiences for young children in the classroom, the practices that they use when introducing children to reading concepts, writing or concepts of number. Since Holt was writing, ICT has offered teachers great ways to achieve some of the approaches he suggests.

What also comes across in this beautifully written piece is the care for children, the sensitivity to their needs as learners that was Holt’s trademark.

When to Start School

Whatever profession we work in, from time to time we all get one of those “I told you so” moments – a moment when we come across some evidence that so overwhelmingly backs up and supports a viewpoint that we hold dear.

I confess that when reading this article i had just such a moment.

New Scientist – Too Much, Too Young

I get startled when i read articles from the UK and American media advocating for earlier ‘schoolifying’ of young children. Obviously, working for many years in Asian cultures I’ve been very used to the impact of parental aspirations as the demands for early academic activity are sometimes almost overpowering. Lay people can’t seem to resist the idea that if they can just get a ‘head start’ for their child on reading, writing etc. then they can stack the odds in their child’s favour for a life of success and beating out the competition.

As the experts cited in this article attest, scientific evidence doesn’t back these ideas at all. Instead, it represents a form of ‘Russian roulette’ as the parent crosses their fingers that their child is an early neurological developer who will fair well in this academic hothouse climate.

Instead, our duty is to provide a high quality genuinely play-based environment where children can build their interpersonal and other skills whilst engaging in creative forms of play.

Did anyone ever put their child in remedial class for being a late walker??? !!

Creative Education Uses for Google Hangouts

Here’s a nice short article in which a teacher shares some innovative ideas for how to use Google Hangouts as a learning tool with children:

The Journal – Article – Google Hangouts

I love to see the innovative ways technology is being used to go beyond simply new ways to ‘show and tell’.

Working Longer Hours Doesn’t Necessarily Work

Here’s a well thought out article about ‘the working week’, with evidence about what makes sense that is quite compelling.

Business Insider – Why Working Six Days a Week is Bad For You

In those organisations where people habitually work like this, in my experience in developing countries it has more to do with inefficiency built in to systems, high tolerance for time-wasting behaviour and macho individual competitiveness that equates simple time in office with output achieved.

After reading this article – I’m looking forward to my vacation even more!

Paulo Coelho – Facts on Bullying

Bestselling writer, Paulo Coelho shares some awful statistics on bullying. I agree with him that whilst the data relates to USA, it can be extrapolated with minor variations to every education system in the world;

Paulo Coelho Blog Post

To me, what is key to addressing these issues is that we must not be looking to simply paper over the issues or address symptoms, but rather must work to change the culture of schools and the environment within which children grow up so that the issues that create bullies and victims are addressed at the root.

Educators Sharing Free Resources

There’s a tradition and norm amongst educators of ‘sharing’ knowledge and ideas. IT is offering many new ways for this sharing and here are a couple of examples;

Mindshift Article – Links to Large banks of Free Resources for Educators

ASCD Page Linking to a Teacher Sharing Great Resources through Pinterest

Pinterest – Suzy Brooks shares Resources for Elementary Educators

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