Posted in Why Unlearn?

Teach Skills not Content

skills

A few years ago I found a list of essential life skills that I wanted my students to use as their curriculum in my classroom.  We decided that we would use the course material to work on those essential skills – you can see them below. For the life of me I can not find the site that I borrowed these from.  It was definitely somewhere in the UK…sorry!!

Learning to Learn

  • Self Directed Learning skills
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Right mindset
  • Emotional resilience
  • Grit

Learning to Think

  • Independence & creative thinking
  • Innovative problem solving
  • Judicious decision making

Learning to Listen & Tell

  • Narrative skills
  • Persuasive skills
 

Learning to Collaborate

  • Empathy
  • Accepting diversity
  • Teamwork

Learning to Earn & Give

  • Financial literacy
  • Philanthropy

Learning to Be

  • Self awareness
  • Pursuit of goals larger than own interest

Little did I know that our board already had something called EXIT OUTCOMES.  I found a lot of overlap with the essential life skills that we had been focusing on. Now we use the combination of the two as our curriculum.

exit outcomes
I want my students to be ok with failing and willing to take risks, learn to be able to learn on their own, to be self-motivated and self-regulated, confident, feel valued, motivated and excited for their next chapter.  I want them to leave with a set of essential life skills that no matter what content they learned they will have the ability to be successful in anything that they want to pursue. They may not all take the same path in getting there, but I want to know that they will have the ability to get there because of this toolbox of skills that they possess.

Just in Time learning vs Just in Case Learning

I listened to Sergio Marrero: Just In Time Learning or Just In Case? on Don Wettricks StartedUp podcast a month or so ago and was intrigued.  Marrero talks about College in the US and how he feels that there is a need for a post secondary option that focuses on Just in Time Learning rather than Just in Case learning.  He suggests that a lot of traditional Colleges focus on the concept of teaching students what they might need in the future rather than what they need right now. I would argue that this is the same for our elementary and high schools.  It has been the teachers job to prepare students for their next steps, in elementary school they teach a lot of just in case you need this in high school, in high school we teach just in case you might need this in post secondary and beyond.  But is it time to get rid of this model? Rather than sitting through classes that bore some students to death, why can’t we work on the skills that the students will need later in life by finding out what students are interested in learning right now and connecting curriculum to that?  I am trying this out in my Social Science classes but, the question that I have been pondering is how do we do that in all subject areas, is it even possible? As mentioned I teach in the Social Sciences and any time I have this conversation with people it is always, that is great and I can see how that works in the Social Sciences, but it would never work in Maths or Science.  I am on a mission to prove that teaching skills over content can happen in any class. What I want to figure out is what set of skills would someone need in order to pursue something that they did not go to school for. For example if I wanted to be an engineer but did not take maths and sciences in high school or university what set of skills would I need to eventually become an engineer?

I have often wonder where my set of tools came from.  I can hypothesize that first and foremost they come from home, some genetic, other activities and experiences that I was exposed to over my lifetime and finally school.  I am so fortunate to have been brought up in a household with two amazing parents who were great role models for me. My mother is a retired elementary school teacher who was so passionate about everything that she did at school, she is a true leader.  She ran anti bullying programs, worked with inner city kids and modeled perseverance and lifelong learning when she worked on her degree by taking night school all while raising a family and working full time. My father was the GM of a Steel Mill who from day one instilled in his girls that they would be strong, confident and independent.  He never treated us like “girls” and taught us to throw a baseball, drive a boat and understand how to fix things if we were stranded, meet deadlines and always be on time. He modeled confidence, compassion and empathy and was there for us when ever we needed him. I also played competitive volleyball for an organization that was coached by Catholic School Teachers.  While volleyball was important to them, the way we conducted ourselves in public and with each other was one of their top priorities. Sport taught me perseverance, good health, teamwork and collaboration. My teammates were like my sisters and we learned so much together. We travelled a lot and learned a lot of life skills while on the road. We learned about philanthropy and giving back. I know for a fact that the time spent with this group is a huge part of who I am today. As for school,  I would say that I definitely learned how to read and write, numeracy and how to interact with teachers and peers. However, I find it hard to figure out what about who I am today is a result of my schooling. I would argue – not all that much.

In my fourth year of University I worked at the GAP and H & R Block as a receptionist. While I was working at H & R Block I learned a lot about tax preparation. As exciting as that sounds, I decided to take the course that would allow me to prepare taxes.  I have a degree in history with a minor in geography. One would think that I would need some sort of math or accounting background to do this but I didn’t and I was still able to successfully complete the course and prepare some taxes – this would be a case for some just in time learning.  

Skip ahead a year, after I finished university I decided to take some time off before going to teachers college to enjoy life and work. I ended up getting a job as a receptionist at an accounting firm.  I worked here for about a year. While I was there my bosses approached me and asked me what my future plans were. I told them that I wanted to be a teacher and was hoping to go to teachers college. It was pretty tough to get into teachers college at the time so I wasn’t sure I would get in.   They sat me down and asked me if I would be interested in getting into accounting. While I was flattered, I knew that working in an office was not for me. But, what I am wondering is this – if I had all the tools needed to learn something that was not related to what I learned in school would I be able to do it?  In my experience I think yes. If I really wanted to become an accountant, I could have pursued this because I would have been motivated, confident and would learn what I needed to learn in order to make it happen. I wouldn’t have used much from my just in case learning, but I would have to pull from the skills from my tool box.  Now the question is, can all people do this if they are equipped with the right tools before heading out into the “real world”?

I am curious to hear people’s thoughts on this.  How much of who I am today and what I am capable of comes from my just in case learning in high school when I was very disengaged???

Thanks again for reading 🙂

Cheers, R

 

Posted in Classroom Examples, Why Unlearn?

Creating an Authentic Audience, using Social Media in the Classroom

twitter

If students had the ability to connect and share with real live people around the world on a daily basis what might they think? We tried it out and this what they had to say about it.

“I like how it helps me learn/acquire information in an interesting way. For once I look forward to class!”

“Using Twitter in the classroom unlocks a whole new way of interacting with your peers, sharing what you’re learning instead of summarizing it in a report, and using this platform to make and inspire change in the world, big or small.”

“Gives us the chance to showcase our learning and connect with real people in our field of study.”

“What I like about using Twitter in the classroom is I get to connect with people I otherwise would not get to. I also enjoy being globally aware and using Twitter gives me that opportunity.”

Read below to see how over the years I have incorporated Social Media into my classroom.

Twitter used to replace paper…

I started using Twitter in my classroom in about 2011.  I had my students create accounts and pretend that they were historical characters.  They had to tweet as if they were living in the time period. I wanted my students to learn how to use a 21st-century tool all the while covering the history curriculum.  I would say that it was successful and the students did a good job getting into character and tweeting out interesting stuff as their historical character. This was great, but it wasn’t real or authentic.  It was a great starting point for my students and me to learn about Twitter, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was just replacing paper or a discussion rather than really teaching my students how to use Twitter properly.

Twitter as a platform to act in place of paper, but starting to evolve into collaboration, becoming globally aware and connecting to the outside world.

Skip ahead a couple of years, between 2013 – 2016 I came across two different blog articles and heard a keynote speaker that inspired me to change what we were doing with Twitter.  I realized that we needed to learn how to use Twitter to achieve an authentic audience, rather than just use it to replace the way we used to do things.

Any Miah – Social Media as a Research Tool

Early on, Andy inspired me to use Twitter with my students to connect with the world and get up to date research right from the horse’s mouth.  To this day I still use the quote from this 2013 article on Social Media to show how we can use it.

“These days, I receive more invitations to speak and collaborate via Facebook & LinkedIn today than I do by email. I’d even go as far as to say that email is moribund. I mean, really, who has time to read all the emails they receive, let alone reply to them? I find more resources through Pinterest and Google Scholar than I do via my library. I meet more people with whom I share common research interests through Twitter than I ever did at academic conferences. I co-author and edit university documents in Google Drive saving hours of time spent sharing versions of drafts, sometimes working in real time on one document with over 10 people. I am also one of those people who has switched from Endnote to Mendeley, preferring the convenience of a multi-platform application, which I can install onto my home machines as well, without having to go through university IT.

What about journals or conferences, I hear you ask? Are these not still primary vehicles of research development? Certainly, they remain important, but the point is that they are each increasingly being delivered by social media as well. Furthermore, we can digest a lot more content because of these platforms, if we use them well. I no longer visit journal websites or bother with email alerts about new issues. Instead, the RSS feeds of journals go straight into my social media environments, as soon as they are published. The content comes to me, saving hours of search time.”  Andy Miah

Adam Schoenbart – How to Use Social Media in the Classroom

I came across Adam’s blog The Schoenblog via Edutopia when I was trying to figure out how to use Social Media in the classroom.  His post “WHY I WANT MY STUDENTS USING SOCIAL MEDIA: REASON #1 – COMMUNITY”, really helped me figure out how I would implement the use of Twitter in my classroom.  On another note, Adam’s blog inspired me to write my blog, I really liked that he showcased his successes and failures when trying out new things.  You should really check it out if you are looking for some inspiration.

Kevin Honeycutt – Authentic Audience

In 2016 I went to a conference held by our board and Kevin Honeycutt was the keynote speaker.  I loved everything about his presentation, he was engaging, entertaining and more importantly had a super important message – we need to make things authentic for our students.  He stood up at the front of the room using his Godium that was created for him by students. He gave students a real problem and they came up with a solution, built it and now he uses it everywhere he goes.  Listening to and meeting Kevin has changed my teaching practice and has inspired me to try so many different things. In relation to social media, it really made me think about how we could use it to really find a voice for students and how they could complete things that had purpose.

Community Connections – Michaela Milligan and Elle Mills

So I did some research on my own to figure out how we could use Twitter in a more authentic way. As a result, Twitter in our classroom evolved into: students following each other, following organizations that related to the courses that they were taking, tweeting about everything that they were learning and reaching out and trying to get their message out there (but I really didn’t know how to do this – it was all trial and error).  My students and I have worked together on trying to figure a lot of this out. On the recommendation of my students, we even invited Youtuber Elle of the Mills into the classroom to tell us about how she was able to jump from 10,000 subscribers to 30,000 in less than a month (She has 1.2 million subscribers now). While I don’t necessarily agree with some of the content that she posts, she was very professional and helped us out a ton. We also reached out to a former student who is taking a degree in Fine Arts with a minor in Social Media at Ryerson University (Yes this degree exists and it is SO cool).  Michaela Milligan has come in twice now to share everything that she has learned in her program about Social Media and took the time to critique what we were doing.  I am forever grateful for coming into my class when she comes home to visit her family.

Skyfall Blue – Fadi Ghaby, Social Media expert

Halfway through last semester, I felt like we were still not using Twitter in our classroom to its full capacity.  I contemplated taking a course on Social Media from our local community college to learn more, but I just didn’t have the time.  So instead I emailed about 30 different social media marketing companies in Ottawa and asked if anyone was up for giving us some free advice on how we could use Social Media to its full potential.  I had one response Fadi Ghabi from Skyfall Blue who came to our rescue.  Fadi came in and analyzed what we were doing, gave us some suggestions on how we could maximize our Twitter usage and explained to us the who, what, where, why and how of Social Media.  We have been so very fortunate to have had him back a second time this year and his continued support via Twitter. Fadi even had us trending in Ottawa on the day that he came to visit and introduced us to local influencers Twenty York Street and Canadian Blog House who have been graciously supporting my students throughout the year.

Now in our classroom we use Twitter to create networks, to find up to date research, to connect with professionals, to publish work, to advocate on behalf of different organizations, to share information about the course, to follow the news and accounts that relate to our curriculum, to show our audience that we are real people, to fundraise and most importantly to have an authentic audience.

You can follow our class hashtags to see what the students are up to at Grade 10 Canadian History  #jmsshpa10, The Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology #jmsshpa11 and World Issues  #jmsshpa12.

If you have any questions about what or how we are using Twitter please do not hesitate to contact me!

Thanks for reading 🙂

R

 

Posted in Classroom Examples, Why Unlearn?

The art of letting go…how I transitioned to a Student Centred Classroom

letting-go

We have all heard the latest buzzwords in education: differentiation, inquiry, innovation and creation and more recently student centred.  In discussion with colleagues it is evident that many teachers would like to try a more student centred classroom, but feel that there are many barriers in the way and just not quite sure how to go about doing it.  Over the past five years, I have been on a journey of figuring out how to let go. These are some of the frequently asked questions and concerns that I get when talking to other teachers about moving toward a student centred classroom.

Class size

When you have a class of 25 – 30 students how do you track what they are doing if they are all doing different things?

How do you cover all of the curriculum?

If I don’t have every student cover all of the curriculum I am not doing my job.

Don’t you feel out of control?

I struggle with this one all the time, I think it is in every teacher’s nature to want to be in control.  If I give up control of my classroom what is going to happen in my classroom? If I don’t tell them what to do they, they won’t do anything!  How do you get them to work, how do you keep them on track?

Grades

If I have to put marks on a report card I have to have a way to gather a grade, how do I mark 30 different things?

Permission

Do I have the permission of my administrator and parents to try this out?  What will be the backlash if it doesn’t work?
All of the above are legitimate concerns and I struggle with most of them daily. In this post, I would like to share with you how I have worked with and against a lot of these concerns to create a student centred classroom.

We need to get over our fears and jump in!

As you may have noticed in my previous posts, I am on a mission to change the way we do things in education.  I have gone to many workshops, heard people speak, watched TED Talks, read articles, joined twitter chat groups and come to the conclusion that I just have to do it.  While the above barriers exist I have decided that I need to get over my fears and just try some stuff out.

I often have discussions with colleagues about what a student centred classroom looks like.  A lot of them want to try it but are concerned that nothing will get done. I have to agree with them when they say this.  By the time students are in grade 12, they have spent 14 years being told to sit down, be quiet and wait for instructions. If all of a sudden you ask them the questions,  what do you want to learn, how do you want to learn it and what will you do once you have gathered your information, they will not know how to answer this and when given time to do this they will do nothing, mostly because they are lost not because they don’t want to do things.  Self-regulation needs to be scaffolded and introduced at a young age. A perfect example of where this is happening is at Blue Sky School in Kanata, ON.  At BSS they are completely student centred and are teaching students as young as ten years old to drive their own learning.

I recently came across this sketchnote by Trevor Mackenzie entitled Types of Student Inquiry from his book Inquiry Mindset.  It is a great representation of what I have been doing in my classes, as I have gradually let go of control and put into the student’s hands.

inquiry steps

 

What I have found is that the gradual steps to independence and autonomy in the classroom are necessary.  What I am doing is by no means perfect but this is what I have found works.

In grade 10 and 11 I follow the outline that I posted in How do I incorporate inquiry, innovation and all that other stuff they want me to bring into my classroom?  Students have the freedom to choose issues that they are passionate about and then they follow our Inquiry steps outlined below.

Grade 10 & 11 syllabus for this semester:

  1. Inquiry # 1 – Goal Create awareness
  2. Inquiry # 2 – Goal same as above + create a Solution
  3. Action Plan – What do you want to learn, how would you like to learn it, what will you do with the information once you have learned it?  (NEW THIS SEMESTER FOR GR 10s)
  4. Twitter
  5. Genius Hour
  6. Social Science Fair

Inquiry Steps:

  • Choose a current issue – something that you are passionate about, could be passionate about, that you are already involved in, etc.
  • Learn about the current issue and become an advocate for it.
  • Create a media piece to gain attention, followers etc. post it – over and over and over to get traction
  • Use the Social Scientific Method to research your issue in relation to your course material.
  • Campaign:  As you research tweet out, and at people who care about your issue – connect with organizations and classmates. Try to get on the twitter pyramid.
  • Ultimate Goal – get noticed, get your message out there, create a solution – do something that matters.
  • Assessment – students are assessed on a biweekly basis via Twitter, each student reflects at the end of each inquiry and gives themselves next steps for their next one.

After my grade 10s and 11s go through the inquiry process twice we are going try out something that has very few rules to test out their ability to go solo with me as their support.   They will be asked the question what do you want to learn, how do you want to go about learning it and once you’ve learned it what will you DO with the information. From there they sit with a mentor and map out an action plan that we write on the walls.  I tried this out with my grade 11s and 12s last semester and the things that came from it were amazing!! I have to admit that while this was happening last semester I felt totally out of control and really felt that nothing was happening, but when the students shared what they had done I was blown away.

So, for this semester I decided that we would run the entire grade 12 World Issues course by giving students choice in everything that they do. At the beginning of the course I brought in about 10 – 15 different people from different organizations to tell us about issues that are faced worldwide.  We watched documentaries and had discussions. They followed organizations and people that related to the course and built a network on Twitter. Then they were asked what they wanted to learn, how they wanted to learn it and what will they do with the information once they have learned about it. It has taken almost 1.5 months to sort out what everyone was doing, but I think we are on track now.  Each student in my class has filled out a project sheet that has at least 6 items on it which are the things that they will complete by the end of the semester. Some examples include, two students have chosen to lead things that they like doing in other classes such as debates or watching documentaries that relate to the course curriculum, we sit down with a calendar and map out what days those will happen, the other students in the class can participate in them if they want to but can choose to opt out of them if they wish.  Another student would like us to do yoga as a class (she is researching mental health), and has asked her yoga instructor to come in and lead a class, again this gets put on the class calendar. Other examples are visiting and working with the elderly in a retirement home, organizing a day for some of us to go to a food centre to cook and freeze meals for their clients, rallying and organizing students and teachers to give blood, bringing in dogs to class for some pet therapy, starting a #nostraw movement, leading discussions, working with Blue Sky School students and so many other things! What I struggle with and have been working on is how to keep everyone organized and on track.  One of the things that the students are expected to do each day when they come to class is to look at the calendar and see what is happening. If there is a group activity, as mentioned before they can opt in or out, they then have to use a sheet that we adapted from Blue Sky School and they have to map out their route for the class. They have to indicate specifically what they will work on and check it off as they go. We keep track of their project list, a calendar for each of them and their daily route maps in a binder for both of us to access. The hope is that when it comes time to reflect on their progress they can refer back to what they said they were going to do and see if they actually did it.

Sorry for the uber long paragraph, I am taking a breath now.  This is just a snip-it of what I am trying out and it is ever evolving.  I am happy to share anything that I have mentioned above. I apologize if it is hard to follow, my description is exactly like my classroom, controlled chaos.  Let me know if you want to know more and we can connect!!

If you are interested, I plan to outline in more detail how we use Social Media, how we cover curriculum and how we come up with grades in future posts.

Thanks for reading!!

R

Posted in Student Perspective, Why Unlearn?

Students are suffocating and we need to do something about it.

help

About 3 months ago I came across Don Wetterick’s podcast called StartedUp on Twitter.  He had on a teacher from Virginia named Nate Green who was talking about using social media in his classroom.  I instantly connected with Don’s message as well as Nate’s.  That day I listened to the podcast a second time and decided to contact Nate to see if we could chat about what he was doing in his classroom.  Nate was amazing and offered to chat via google hangout.  It was amazing to connect with someone so like minded.  You should check out him out on Twitter and take a look at his blog Social Media in Education.

Over the past few months, I have listened to Don’s podcast religiously and when new podcasts were not released I went back and listened to ones from the previous year.  One message that was consistent with Don and all of his guests was that education needs to change.  I have learned and continue to learn so much from his guests.  One guest in particular really got my attention. Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate was interviewed by Don in I believe December of 2017.  He talked about his book and publishing company, which I found fascinating you should listen to it here.  BUT, what Dave said that really stuck with me was this….there are kids in our classes that are suffocating and they need help.  If you are a teacher who believes that you are doing something to save these students it is your duty and obligation to share it.  I was one of those students in high school, I am fighting for those students and I got into teaching to save them, therefore I think I have some suggestions and I want to share it!!

Inspired by listening to Dave Burgess’s interview with Don Wettrick I decided to email / DM Don and tell him all about all of the amazing things that my students were doing.  Within twenty minutes he messaged me back and asked if I wanted to be on his podcast….I was thrilled and obviously jumped at the chance.  I have been reluctant to share this podcast with others, but have just recently finished the book Poke the Box by Seth Godin (recommended to me by Cameron author of A Students Perspective on Why we need to Unlearn) and have decided to listen to his manifesto.  In it, Godin suggests that those who want to be initiators need to have a pick me mentality.  You can no longer wait for others to promote your ideas, you need to make it happen yourself.  So, please listen to the podcast below, I am pretty proud of my students and the message that we are trying to spread.  Thank you Don Wettrick for inviting me and my students to be a part of your podcast, it was an honour.

Thanks for reading and listening!

R

Posted in Why Unlearn?

What exactly is Unlearning?

unlearn a toffer

In my first few posts I have tried to explain what I feel is wrong with our current education system, and hopefully I have got some of your attention.  I truly believe that society, teachers, parents and students need to unlearn the current system, but what exactly is unlearning? Before we can define unlearning, we will need to define what it is that we need to unlearn, school, the role of teacher and student.  

What does it mean to be a teacher?

In a traditional sense it means that they are the keeper of knowledge, they are the ones that tell students what they need to know and how to learn it.  This was a great model for the industrial age and maybe for a couple of centuries to follow. But it is outdated, and does not prepare students for the world that they will live in.   In Peter Gamwell’s book Wonderwall, he suggests that we live in an age of complexity, that we no longer need to spit out carbon copies of students who know the same stuff. Don Wettrick points out that in a few years 40% of jobs will be made up by the “Gig” economy, and that students will need to be able to solve problems by being innovative and creative.

“A gig economy is an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. The trend toward a gig economy has begun. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.”  (techtarget.com)

What does it mean to be a student?

For the past 200 years students have been consumers of knowledge.  They learn whatever they are being taught and then regurgitate it to prove that they know it. Usually they have very little control over what they learn and how they learn it.

Some responses to the need for change.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been a lot of initiatives to change student engagement throughout my teaching career.  Even though there are things that still resemble the industrial revolution (bells and rows) teachers are doing amazing things to deliver content in a more engaging way. We’ve learned about different types of learners and implemented better ways for these students to learn (kinesthetic, audio, visual etc), we’ve used differentiated instruction, classrooms have been equipped with the latest technology such as smart boards, ipads, chromebooks and more recently we have been implementing more inquiry into our classes.  This is all a great start, and some of these methods should remain, but it is not enough, we need to redefine the traditional student / teacher roles as well as the definition of the traditional classroom. The classroom walls need to come down. We need to wipe the slate clean and start fresh so that our schools resemble the world in which our students will be living.  Students need to become creators rather than consumers and teachers need to become mentors / facilitators.

So what exactly is unlearning?

I enjoy change, actually I thrive on it.  I have never taught a class the same way more than once.  I am constantly looking for some way to change things up and do a better job.  I reflect on what went right and what didn’t and work from there. I’d say most teachers do this, but they continue to change their lessons / assignments in a more traditional way. As mentioned in previous posts, I have been inspired by many progressive educators who are saying enough is enough, things have got change. So I have jumped on the unlearning bandwagon and am challenging the traditional definitions of education, classroom, teacher and student.   

The unlearning movement involves what Peter Hutton describes as ‘“new ways to think in the face of established practices.”’ (Flanagan) This concept is hard to achieve in our current system as most teachers feel overwhelmed with limitations  and barriers that include lack of time to unlearn, covering curriculum, class sizes,  lack of technology, behaviour problems and the need to provide marks, to name a few. However some leaders are recognizing that it needs to happen. Recently I have been reading about Peter Hutton, head of Beaver Country Day School and Marga Biller, project director of Harvard’s Learning Innovations Laboratory, and how they are taking a whole school approach and putting their teachers through the unlearning process.  Biller points out that, ‘”We’ve all gone to workshops and seminars and learned from a class,” she said. “We go there, gain skills, change mindsets, we get very excited, and then we head back to work and things get in the way. And then we wonder why change isn’t taking place.” She said often what stands in the way of implementing change is the inability to see things beyond what they’ve always been in the past.” (Flanagan)  These two organizations are going to work together to challenge what has always been by using a process where they will change mindsets, habits and build trust.

While I know it is not realistic for every school to stop everything and put their staff and students through the unlearning process, I would like to show you that it can be done.

In my next few posts, I plan to outline my unlearning journey from traditional teacher to an unlearned teacher.  I hope you will continue to read, ask questions and maybe try to do a little unlearning of your own.

Thanks for reading 🙂

R

For more reading on Beaver Country Day School and Harvard’s LILA see below.

Almeida, Debora. “Should Students Be Learning or Unlearning? – The Boston Globe.”BostonGlobe.com, 21 Oct. 2016, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/west/2016/10/21/should-students-learning-unlearning/uvpDTMsdvuYtkXjNtUrRFN/story.html.

Flanagan, Linda. “Why ‘Unlearning’ Old Habits Is An Essential Step For Innovation | MindShift | KQED News.” KQED, 23 June 2017, http://www.kqed.org/mindshift/48480/why-unlearning-old-habits-is-an-essential-step-for-innovation.
“Learning Innovations Laboratory.” Learning Innovations Laboratory | Project Zero, http://www.pz.harvard.edu/projects/learning-innovations-laboratory.

“What Is Gig Economy? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” WhatIs.com, May 2016, whatis.techtarget.com/definition/gig-economy.

 

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Posted in Student Perspective, Why Unlearn?

A Students Perspective on why we NEED to unlearn our current system.

2018_be_the_change_small_en
Student X reads more books in a week than most adults do in a year.  He’s read Sapiens, Homo Deus , Superintelligence , Breakfast of Champions, Einstein: His Life & Universe, The Odyssey, The Stranger, Personal Power Through Awareness, Vagabonding and Thinking Fast and Slow in the past year just to name a few.  Everyday he enlightens us with something new that he has learned.  He has taught me and his classmates so much about so many different topics, he has lent me his books (I have only got through one of them) and he constantly makes connections to course material,  and get this,  in conversation with him he tells me that, “I have never felt smart in school”…..WHAT??
Meet Cameron Lamoureux, a grade 12 student who I have had the opportunity to coach and teach over the last three years.  In the first two years that I knew him, Cam’s teachers (including myself) would describe him as a very smart, and capable student who was not working to his full potential.  Cam is an extremely intelligent and insightful young man.  Below is a video interview and a post from his blog camlam.blog where he shares his views on our current system.  If this doesn’t get you to think twice about our need to unlearn, I’m not sure what will.

 

Learning to Learn

From the moment we start school, we are taught to play. There is certainly a lot of benefit to play. Although, the older we become the less we do it, we lose connection with our own interests and become distracted by material factors such as money or a new promotion. Our minds and bodies become less of a priority while we focus on larger goals for the well-being of others.

All of this playing teaches us something extremely valuable that traditional education does not. It teaches us to learn the way that we do best. Whether that be with our eyes, hands or ears.  Don’t get me wrong, I love standardized testing as much as the next guy. However, I am a firm believer in the power that each and every one of us possess to create change and add value to our world. Our everyday experiences are what make up our lives and in order to create the most meaning within those moments we must learn how we learn. Not as a society. As a human being. What is the best way for you to intake information. How do you learn? What factors contribute to your knowledge? These are questions that traditional schooling never answers. We are given a foundation of knowledge to memorize and regurgitate. The majority won’t even be given the opportunity to look inwardly for answers. Others may fall behind and give up on the learning process completely. Learning how to teach yourself any information  you desire to learn is a priceless tool that most people will never truly master or take advantage of. All because we are shrouded from the answers throughout our childhood. As I stroll through my path down the traditional school system, I’ve come to realize a lot. We are definitely not given all the answers, despite the fact that we occasionally think we’ve memorized them all. The only answer we need is in the questions.

CamLam

You can visit and follow Cam’s blog on mindfulness, learning and productivity at camlam.blog, you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading 🙂

R

Citations

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“Student Voice.” Ontario Ministry of Education, 22 Dec. 2017, http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/students/speakup/preMSAC.html.

Posted in Why Unlearn?

Why we NEED to Unlearn

WHY

Why we NEED to Unlearn

At the beginning of each of my courses I go through a Presentation that I have created to show my students the inquiry process (which we use throughout the course) and to explain WHY we will do things a little different in my class.  I think it is extremely important to explain this to them and to their parents so that they will be on board.  It is often the beginning of many students unlearning process.  I use the Social Scientific Method to do this, so in the next few posts I thought I would go through each step to showcase all the people that have influenced my unlearning process.

Problem:  There is a problem with our current education system, it is not preparing our students for the world that they will be living in.  We are not giving them the skills that they need to be successful.   It is archaic and we ultimately need to wipe the slate clean and start over.  Below are the articles and people that I refer to in my presentation to explain the WHY we need to unlearn.

Forbes magazine Jan. 6, 2017 – Our current system is not preparing our students for the business world of today.

Top employers say millennials need these 4 skills in 2017

Attention

  • Looking for workers capable of concentrating.
  • Looking for those who have time management skills and follow through.

More than College

  • Bachelor’s degree may now be less important in part because they’re less rare.
  • Education system has prepared students for academia, memorizing, position writing and the sciences but not the business world.
  • Looking for someone who is still willing to learn after they graduate college, so having a degree has been pushed down the list on the criterion.

Agility

  • Is not getting stumped at an early stage – moves onto Plan B and Plan C to solve a problem.
  • Looking for people who are willing to stick it out when there is a problem rather than moving on.
  • We want to know if they have GRIT, have the been told NO but still continued?  Have they failed but kept going?

Humility

  • Not taking yourself too seriously, admitting when you don’t know stuff and asking for help when you need it are some of the most advanced skills of all.
  • People who think they know everything are not trainable, nor good collaborators.

According to CBC Doc Zone Generation Jobless Millennials need to learn:

  • The reality of the job market is that by the time the avg person turns 30 year old they will have between 200 – 300 projects.  
  • Our society is becoming a project based society.
  • Employers are looking for young adults that have different degrees but are intersected with TECHNOLOGY.
  • Canadian millennials need to become more creative in creating their own jobs.

Sir Ken Robinson – Our current system Kills all Creativity

As I watched and listened to the TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity” all I could do is sit and say to myself YES, over and over again.  Sir Ken Robinson outlines the issues with our current system in this talk and ultimately proves in my opinion that our current system is outdated and that we ARE killing all creativity and love for learning by testing our students to death!!

Alan November – Our current system does not allow students to own their learning, and do things that have purpose.

I was very fortunate to be introduced to Alan November in my Integrating Computer Technology Part 1 at Queen’s University.  There are a few things that really stuck with me after listening to him talk and reading his book, “Who Owns the Learning?”.  He suggests that we need to prepare our students for the Digital World – rather than using a computer or as he calls it the “$2000 pencil” as a word processor, we need students to be learning about how to use the programs that are out there, learn to use google properly and to use their critical thinking skills in their research.  We need to prepare our students for the global world that we are living in.  Finally, I think the biggest thing that I have adopted in my teaching is his suggestion that students need to have purposeful work.  “At the heart of all the stories is the key concept that students will work harder to achieve a purpose then they will for a grade.” (pg 4 -5)

Dr. Carol Dweck – We all need to understand that if we have a Growth Mindset we can do anything!!

Because of my experience in school, I vowed that I would do everything in my power to help students see that each and everyone of us can do anything we want and that we are all talented and smart in some way.  Our current system with streaming and grades do not allow for this to happen for all students.  Dr. Carol Dweck’s work on instilling a Growth Mindset in our students really validated my thoughts.  If you haven’t listened to her TED Talk it is a MUST for all educators.
Peter Gamwell – Our current system is not preparing students for an age of complexity.

I met Peter around the same time that I was introduced to Sir Ken Robinson’s ideas.  Peter was a Superintendent for the OCDSB where I work and I was lucky enough to attend a conference that he created called Lead the Way.  Little did I know that in about 10 years I would invite him to a function at our school and he would become one of my biggest supporters and I one of his.  Peter suggests that creativity exists when we recognize that there is a seed of brilliance in everyone.  Peter has recently wrote an amazing book called the Wonder Wall – it is a must read for all educators and business owners who want to foster creativity within their classrooms and organizations.

There are many other amazing people that have inspired me to Unlearn, but these are the ones that initially helped validate everything that I was feeling about our current system.

Next Post – HOW to unlearn and those who influenced me to do that.

Thanks for being a part of our unlearning journey.

R

Posted in Why Unlearn?

Unlearn With Us

learn unlearn relearn

Unlearn With Us

Sir Ken Robinson, Peter Gamwell, Angela Duckworth, Alan November, Andy Miah, Adam Schoenbart, George Curous, A.J Juliani, Carol Dweck, Daniel Pink, Elon Musk and more recently Don Wettrick and Nate Green, and schools such as The Independent ProjectBlue Sky School here in Ottawa, The Met School Model and Iowa BIG to name a few, have all inspired me in one way or another that change in education needs to happen and that it is happening.  My journey of “unlearning” began the moment I watched Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”.   I was hooked and continued to seek others in the educational field who have a similar message and I haven’t looked back since.  I started my unlearning journey and just had to take my students with me.  Unlearning is scary and can feel lonely at times.  Often times after teachers are introduced to the big ideas from someone like Sir Ken the general feeling is that it all sounds great, but HOW can we incorporate creativity into an allotted time period, with specific curriculum, all while preparing our students for postsecondary education?   My hope is that this blog will become a place where teachers and students can see the unlearning process.  I plan to share the successes and failures in our unlearning journey to hopefully help others take the risk and be a part of this educational crusade!!  

Please come and unlearn with us!

R

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” — Pablo Picasso