Childism at the Tate

Here’s a great article written by a great friend, Dr Sue Lyle, educator from Wales, UK. I would urge parents and teachers to read it with an open mind, maybe a couple of times.

Blogger Post – Childism at the Tate

It’s deeply insightful in its own right as an examination of the actions and motivations of a teacher whilst interacting with a class of students on a field trip. However, I believe it also offers thoughtful contemplation on how much or how little attention we may pay to our interactions with children, the methods we use to communicate with them and what those say about the reality of their rights.

Internet Safety

Do you know how many different apps or websites for which you have a password?

No, nor me – but it’s a lot.

It’s a strange thing that most people have heard at least some horror stories of how another person’s privacy, finances or even their very identity online has been abused or invaded by wrongdoers. There’s no question that the anonymity and secrecy of the internet attracts a lot of people with very bad motives. Also, when they commit their crimes knowing that the victim(s) are people they will never look in the eye – there’s all the scope for a lot of bad to happen.

And yet, most people are incredibly cavalier about their security and safety in this potentially risky environment. Maybe even worse, whilst they act anxiously about their children’s safety in the ‘real world’ they pay little heed to where their children are or what they’re doing in the virtual world.

This is an interesting article that takes an in depth exploration of what cyber experts do different to lay people when it comes to protecting and defending themselves online.

I’m pretty certain that everyone reading this will take away some valuable advice that they can apply to be safer online. Also, we all need to ensure that we’re applying these for our children, and teaching them the reasons so that they practice safe internet use as they get older;

Guardian – 7 Things Security Experts Do To Keep Safe Online

Every Child Unique

It was around 6 or 7 years ago when I talked (and wrote) about the lessons that so called ‘mainstream’ teachers could learn from those who taught children categorized as ‘special needs’. The big take-away I argued was that they already worked out of a paradigm of seeing and treating each child as an individual, meeting their learning needs individualistically instead of as batched cohorts.

One question I was asking was, “Why can’t every single child in a school have an Individual Learning Plan, like the SEN kids?”. I also suggested that as we embrace technology in the education domain this becomes more and more possible, more practical and doable.

So, I’m particularly pleased whenever I come across evidence that progress is being made in this direction – that, however slowly, things are happening. Here’s a nice article in which the writer advocates for the kind of design of schools that enables personalization of experience for every student;

Nobody is average, every student deserves personalized learning

Here also is Todd Rose’s TED talk on the Myth of Average:

The article also provides some great links to other articles and materials to broaden knowledge and understanding in this area.

Raising Boys

In these days of political correctness, some suggest it’s heresy to talk as if there is any difference between boys and girls – that ‘equality’ means ‘the same’. However, we know that right from the moment of birth (many would say even earlier than that) parents and caregivers treat boys and girls differently, communicate with them differently and respond to their needs differently.

The result is that boys and girls grow up with very different expectations about how they should be, what’s expected of them and how to expect the world to respond to them. However, then, these early planted perceptions come up against a changing world.

As someone who works and strives to fulfil both parent roles for my son and an educator, I know I don’t always get it right. I make mistakes and I have days when I have to strive to do better. So, I was particularly pleased when I came across this very thoughtfully written article in which the author, Tabitha Studer, has set out 25 rules for mothers of boys;

Gimundo – 25 Rules for Mothers of Boys

I’m not going to say I agree perfectly with all 25, but they’re a good read. At the end, i was left concluding that more application of these rules wouldn’t only be good for the boys (growing in to men) concerned, but for society as a whole.

The Incredible Story of Jen Bricker, a Gymnast Born without Legs | Gimundo: The Brighter Side

This is such a human story on so many levels,  I couldn’t resist sharing. So inspiring.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Meaning vs Happiness

In the simplest terms, happiness is not a distinguishing feature of being human, but meaning (a bigger purpose in life) is.

I couldn’t resist sharing the article linked below. For one thing, it takes as its starting point one of my two or three most valuable booms (I reread my dog-eared, noted up copy about once every year – “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

This is an extraordinary little book. If you’ve never read it, don’t just read it, but make sure you own a copy because I believe you’ll want to reread it in the future.

There is no question, to Frankl meaning was the critical factor that made for a good and valuably lived life. he determined that having meaning was the single biggest determinant of which prisoners survived the nazi concentration camps. The article takes an interesting perspective, putting this up against the current proliferation of books and sources advocating happiness. This has flowed out of the Positive Psychology movement (the father of this movement, Marty Selgman of Pennsylvania University is cited in the article).

I see Positive Psychology as a very necessary corollary to the psychology movement that had taken its lead from medicine, seeing its business as diagnosing and repairing ‘broken people’. Instead, the focus has shifted to enabling human potential through understanding of the human mind, motivations and drive. However, i feel it’s a bit unfair to suggest that Positive Psychology is simply about some kind of hedonistic pursuit of personal happiness in the moment. There is plenty in it that accords with Frankl’s focus on Meaning.

Business Insider – A Lesson About Happiness From A Holocaust Survivor

The article also cross-references another favourite book of mine, Baumeister’s “Willpower:
Willpower – Amazon

If any readers want to check on more of what is being said and advocated by the Positive Psychology movement I would recommend books by Shaun Achor:
Shaun Achor: The Happiness Advantage – Amazon
Any of the books by Tal Ben Shahar, who used to deliver the most popular course at Harvard University:
Tal Ben Shahar’s Website

Educators should, I believe, be thoroughly interested in all aspects and issues of human potential. These are all aspects that are about how people can live more fulfilling lives and i believe there are skills, techniques and mindsets that can be incorporated in to our work with children to give them greater scope and more tools to live both happy and meaningful lives.

Brain Science in the Classroom

I wrote a few days ago about the application of up to date brain science in the classroom to enable more effective learning, sharing an ASCD webinar on the topic.

On a similar note, I came across this piece from the US PBS network that shares an example of a teacher taking these techniques in to the classroom to work with her pupils.

In this short video we see the teacher working with the pupils in her classroom. As much as anything, i love the energy levels, the clear evidence of children engaged. Even the zany wig is evidence that this teacher is ready to go to any lengths to engage the children. One of the other features of her actions that struck me was that her movements and words provide the children with clear signposts of what’s happening, what’s coming next and what they’re expected to do.

I hope sharing this inspires more teachers to have the courage to go in the classroom and experiment:

PBS – Teachers Tap in to Brain Science