The Institute for the Future has what I think is some of the best thinking on the future of education. Their pdf, From educational institutions to learning flows, is worth printing up and posting on the wall. Below is a summary of the big ideas from IFTF. It could be used to shape both strategic planning and unit/lesson planning in a school.
My #tokrew11 students have been playing with their map of knowledge, an original metaphor they created to test the validity of the International Baccalaureate Organization’s claim that we can think of the structure of knowledge as something like a map.
They’ve used it to model the observed knowledge structures in classes at school.
And here they are mapping three abstract concepts:
Once the school year is over, I’ll write up the whole project.
I teach a philosophy elective to some of our middle school students. At the end of the year I asked them to answer the two questions we began with: Who are you? and, What are you supposed to do here?
Alex’s answer is remarkably coherent. He was even able to frame a morality consistent with his world view: whatever promotes survival is good and whatever inhibits is bad. I don’t see that very often in adults.
Along the way, he schools us with his presentation skills!
I found these two…magazines?…in an antique store on Bowen Island: nostalgic, earnest and sometimes funny. Here, for example, is An English Technique, with some advice the BCTF restated sometime after 2006 in this Whole School Approach.
…if any boy (italics are mine) had latent in him poetic capacity, he would find himself equipped for its expression
The just don’t write maxims like they used to!
I’ll share more of these treasures in future posts.
My friend Julia Leong, who has a gift for slicing through cruft, asked me today, “Why don’t they give students harder problems so teachers don’t have to invigilate?”
See also this post on How to write a good math question.
The University of Toronto recently hosted the first national summit devoted to Co-Curricular Records or Transcripts (CCR/T).
Is the effort coming from a real social need to accredit or from the institution’s drive for self-preservation? I have a feeling that accreditation, at least as we know it, will be made unnecessary by social media in the not-so-distant future.
When I worked in Sweden, I met an amazing human being named Sara Wallén who would send me QQs–quick questions on operational details, logistics, reference material and so on. We saved the big questions for face-to-face. I’m turning the term into a tag here and using it to grab questions that pop into my head. They’re likely big questions but I don’t have time or a face to talk to right now and I don’t want to forget that I asked.
I love that he came up with the word “co-inventing.” Co-creation, the term I have been using, doesn’t convey the originality of the work of making new knowledge.
Thanks Howard, for the the new word, and the interview. I enjoyed our conversation!
I think we have to ask the question.
A long time ago very few people went to school. This was for a number of reasons:
The modern economy took care of the first two. It only temporarily removed the last and now, ironically, it has brought us back to the same conditions: As machines first replaced our muscle capacity they’re now replacing out cognitive capacity. When that’s complete, it won’t strictly be necessary to learn to read, write and do ‘rithmetic, not economically necessary anyways. The wheels of the economy can keep going with what you and I can pick up on our own. So maybe, soon, we won’t need anything like school as we know it.
That leaves us with the question, What will an education be for?
“I love calculating these kinds of things. It’s not that I love doing the math. I do a lot of math but I don’t really like doing math for it’s own sake. What I love is that it let’s you take some things that you know and just by moving some symbols around on a piece of paper, find something that you didn’t know that’s very surprising.”
Randall Munroe*, former NASA roboticist, now magical web-cartoonist and creator of xkcd.com, answers what would happen if you hit a baseball travelling at 90% of the speed of light. And, at 3:07, “If all digital data were stored on punch cards, how big would Google’s data warehouse be?” His description of how he calculated the answer to the Google questions is a great example of what a good question can get you to do.
Good questions are fun questions. I’d love to see something like these on a final exam.
*It makes me smile to see that Munroe has more than 20,000 followers and hasn’t sent a single tweet.