The Backwards Brain Bicycle
I am sure that most of you have heard the saying, "it's just like riding a bike" implying that the task at hand is an easy one, or that once you learn something, that you will never forget it. Well this video did a great job of challenging that widely accepted saying. Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head, sometimes you can't change it, even if you want to. At least not right away anyways. That is why learning and even teaching can be frustrating at times. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. It is important to remember that knowledge does not equal understanding. You may know the steps to solving a problem, but truly understanding how to implement those steps and what it means for the context of the question is a different task entirely.
Another good point the video made, is that after you have learned how to do something one way, it is very difficult, and takes a lot of time to learn how to do it a different way. I think Common Core is trying to address that. It takes the approach of student discovery and allows for multiple approaches to a problem. Showing students a variety of ways to approach and solve a problem is a great way to teach and a great way for them to learn.
One thing this video demonstrated is that children have more neuroplasticity than adults, meaning that they have a more plastic brain and can learn new concepts faster than adults. I think that is why society has put more and more pressure on students to learn things while they are in school. They have a higher chance of actually learning it and retaining it, but does that mean that we should be shoving as much material down their throats as we can? My freshmen in high school are learning graph theory, a concept that I didn't dive into until I was a senior in college.
SmarterEveryDay (2015, April) The Backwards Brain Bicycle [Video File] Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0&index=2&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp
Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist from Kansas State. In the video above, he gives a TED Talk about how technology provides the opportunity for us to go from being knowledgeable to knowledge-able by allowing us to connect, organize, share, collect, collaborate, and publish. He says that being knowledgeable is just knowing a bunch of stuff, whereas being knowlege-able is being able to find, sort, analyze, ultimately criticize, and create new information and knowledge.
I found it interesting that he highlighted how the introduction of television sets in family homes changed the way families arranged the furniture in their living rooms. We went from a society being focused around human interaction to one being focused around technology. It changed the content of our conversations. Initially it was a one way conversation, where you only had a voice if you had air time on television. Now, with the internet and social media, anyone can have a voice, and the conversation can spread like wild fire around the world.
I agree with his thinking that students have a voice so it is important to think about what their needs and interests are. How can we get them to change from being a distracted classroom of students, to an excited crowd at American Idol. We want our students to be excited about learning in the same way that we as teachers are excited to teach. The key question is, how do we do that?
One way I would like to implement Wesch's ideas in my own classroom is to allow my students to have a voice. In the video, a student reported that only 18% of teachers knew her name, indicating that it bothered her. I intend to know the name of every one of my students and greet them by name as they walk into the classroom. I want them to feel welcomed and comfortable in my classroom so they know that they matter. I always take a few minutes at the beginning of class as well to ask the class how they are, how their weekend was, if they're going to the football game, etc. I want them to know that I care about them personally.
That's just the beginning of how I would set the stage to give every student a voice. Asking their opinions and collecting their feedback is also currently in my teaching wheelhouse. I would love to hear what you do in your classroom in order to give your students a voice! Please share in the comments below!
Wesch, M. (2010, October 12). From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able [Video file].
I appreciated Dr. White’s breakdown of Visitors vs Residents in this YouTube video. From my own personal experience, the two main reasons people give for not having an internet presence is because they are afraid of identity theft and stalkers or because it is too confusing to navigate. I agree that you have to be careful about what information you share publicly online, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. Instead of being an alien and not utilizing the tools of the web at all, I think people should at least be a goal-oriented visitor. Why not take advantage of an online dictionary, look up a new recipe, find driving directions, or look up reviews for a new restaurant? The internet is a one-stop shop for unlimited information and it’s a shame when people don’t take advantage of its full potential.
Personally, I consider myself to be a social common resident, someone who is there and interacts on occasion, but is not trying to run for mayor. I tend to use the social media aspect of the internet for personal enjoyment. I find pleasure in looking at pictures and getting updates from family and friends, especially those who are not geographically close to me. I use it to extend my pre-existing relationships with people I know personally, not to interact with people I have never met.
Professionally, however, up to this point, I have been a visitor. As a future teacher I look forward to expanding my knowledge of how to use the internet as a tool in my classroom. I already use it to share videos, pictures, and music of content related material with my students, but I know there are endless other options that I have yet to learn. I am excited about building a web presence and becoming a resident so I can share, learn, and collaborate with other educators.
White, D. (2013, May 31). Visitors and Residents [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sFBadv04eY
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, “Why School?” by Will Richardson. I appreciated his forward thinking that is being framed around the changing world around us. With how quickly technology is changing, with how easily we can have unknown information at our fingertips in a matter of seconds, and with how we have morphed into an instant gratification society, it is important to realize that teaching in education can no longer be what it used to be when I was growing up. The first example he uses of his son playing Minecraft for the first time was a great illustration of how kids not only can, but want to learn when it is something of interest to them. They become hunters of information and start utilizing resources available to them to guide them down a path that satisfies that hunger for learning. In what ways can we reform our schools so that students are excited about learning?
I would love for schools to take on the “new school” approach because it “allows for students to have more ownership over their own learning” (Richardson, 267). It includes the forward thinking of focusing “less on what students know, and more on what they can do with what they know” (Richardson, 280). I realize this may be a hard concept for traditional teachers who are teaching their students the same way that their teachers taught them when they were students. However, for those who welcome change, for those who embrace technology, for those who enjoy networking with others, it is the best direction education can go right now, and they need to fight for it. We cannot let the government continue to dictate how classrooms should be ran based on what strategies result in the highest test scores. Our society is changing to where an employer no longer cares about what grades you got in school, but rather, how well you work with others, how well you can problem solve, and how well you can not only show leadership, but take directions well yourself. Instead of ‘teaching to the test’ we need to equip our students with the critical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving tools. They need to have the motivation to try, the humility to admit when they’re wrong, and the adversity to try again until they succeed.
I think that sharing everything, or at least something, is an idea that I can easily see myself committing to. I have always believed that as a teacher, your number one job is to constantly be looking for ways to become a better teacher. A great way to do that is by sharing what you are already doing to allow for feedback and input, so you can only make it better, while at the same time, networking with others to find completely new ideas that you hadn’t thought of yourself. Sharing your lessons that you have dedicated so much time to, constantly refined, and have continued to make better, grants you “the ability to reach just just our kids, but kids around the world” (Richardson, 387). If you have the knowledge, why not share it?
The idea presented in the book that might be a struggle for me to commit to would be transferring the power. The example Richardson provided in the book was of students at an Academy. It is my understanding, that Academy Schools have more flexibility in the curriculum that would allow for them to take on month long projects like the one mentioned in the book. I would love to be able to undergo a real-world project with my students and learn right alongside them, however I feel that this is a request that is more likely to be turned down in a mainstream school. I fear that I would not be given the flexibility to take on such a unique learning experience, but then again, isn’t fighting for it what Richardson’s book is all about?
Richardson. W. (2012). Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Education Are Everywhere . Kindle Edition.