robertogreco + interests   22

Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence agains
"I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence against them, and rethink how we organize life and work. 1/

Not that improving learning is not important, but regardless of how we define and measure it, it is secondary to the well-being and status of children and young people in our societies. 2/

As matter of justice, educational results should not be used to justify, normalize and maintain inequality in income and status. Regardless of our education, all human beings are entitled to a life with dignity and to be regarded as equals. 3/

As a matter of justice, educational results should not be used as an excuse to deny a voice to those deemed as uneducated in the matters affecting their lives. 4/

As a matter of justice, education should not be used to normalize the practice of denying consent to those deemed as uneducated and to all marginalized populations in the matters affecting their lives. 5/

As a matter of justice, we must acknowledge that poverty has not much to do with education and much to do with power imbalances and structures of protection and access to land and other resources. 6/

And we must acknowledge that in order to maintain all forms of inequality and violence, they must first be learnt and normalized through the treatment of children at home and at schools.

If you want to learn more about this, you can follow @TobyRollo. 7/

Learning is important, no doubt about it, but it is not everything. At the end of the day, what we need more is about being more humane. Our priorities should be clear. 8/
https://www.holocaustandhumanity.org/about-us/educational-philosophy/

Can we do both? Absolutely, but ultimately, we should be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of those choosing not to learn what we deem as important they should learn. 9/

We should also be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of what kids choose to learn according to their own purposes, interests, rhythms and talents. 10/

And this may seem too far out, but let's think about what this means in terms of how neurodiversity, linguistic diversity, cultural diversity, and disabilities are crushed and disrespected on a routine basis. 11/

Let's think about how interests, needs, rhythms and expressions falling outside of what school requires are punished routinely. 12/

Some people argue that by respecting the consent of children, we risk having them not learn what they need. But this is a slippery slope.... 13/

Once we accept that we can violate the right of children to consent and a differential treatment on an arbitrary basis, we normalize and facilitate the violation of their rights in other scenarios and with the use of arbitrary norms. 14/

Finally, if we are serious about moving away from the abuse of standardized tests and about decoupling education from the needs of markets.... 15/

We must be willing to stop defining accountability in terms of learning measurements and instead define it in terms of how students are treated and the resources and opportunities that are made available to them in order to learn according to their own purposes and needs. 16/

Currently, schools are not accountable to students, families and communities. Students are accountable to teachers and administrators, and teachers and administrators are accountable to authorities and big power brokers who don't have the best interests of students in mind. 17/

In order to transform the world outside school, we must rethink education. Alternatively, in order to rethink education, we must think about how we want to transform the world outside school. Both visions should match. Both visions should be adequate. 18/

And because in the world outside school, poverty is more a result of rights denied, power imbalances, structures of protection and access to land and other resources, and how we organize life and work... 19/

The treatment of children should prioritize the respect of their rights, granting them power, their access to resources, their access to learning according to alternative ways of organizing life and work, etc... 20/

And of course, this is especially important in the case of marginalized population whose oppression is based on the denial of power and resources. Teaching them that poverty is defined by lack of education is abusing and gaslighting them. 21/

A few more things, I almost missed... 22/

If we are serious about decoupling education from the needs of markets, learning should be about no other reason than for our own fun and pleasure as much as it should be about what we need to survive. 23/

And in this sense, the right to an education should be defined in terms of access to resources and opportunities to learn what individuals want and/or deem important according to their own purposes, and not in terms of forcing them to learn according to someone else's agenda. 24/

The erasure of what is not quantifiable and what is deemed as not important by conventional schools serves to maintain the lower status attached to activities performed by those considered as less educated. 25/

Such activities are performed disproportionately by women and marginalized populations. In many cases, within the domestic realm, these activities are not remunerated. 26/

But if we were all regarded as equals, all truly useful activities would be held in a similar status and acknowledged as what makes possible everyone else's jobs. So then again, there's no reason income differences should be so dramatic and justified by education. 27/

And it is the exploitation, discrimination and exclusion of many, that we should be centering in our thinking about education in connection to how we organize life and work. 28/

Enjoying being able to work with our hands and bodies, and enjoying being able to take care of others, should be regarded as a right, not as a sacrifice or as a punishment for losing in the game of school. 29/

Likewise, enjoying working in a science, technology, or in the arts, should also be regarded as a right, as perhaps a lifelong learning opportunity, and not as a reward for eliminating others in the game of school. 30/

Rights within communities where people collaborate and take care of each other, knowledge thought as a public good, not something privatized and individualized... 31/

Individual failures and accomplishments as belonging to the entire community, not rewards and punishments according to a competition where many are excluded, diversity, not standardization.

The end. 32/"
isabelrodríguez  2019  unschooling  education  learning  children  rights  discrimination  violence  children'srights  society  community  dignity  inequality  sorting  standardization  poverty  power  hierarchy  humanism  humanity  equality  consent  purpose  interests  deschooling  economics  schools  schooling  schooliness  communities  accountability  imbalance  diversity  rewards  punishment  competition  collaboration  collectivism  opportunity 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Love what you do in front of the kids in your life
"“Your kids… They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
—Jim Henson

“Attitudes are caught, not taught.”
—Fred Rogers

Fiona Apple once admitted that she doesn’t want kids, but she spends a lot of time buying and reading parenting books. The interviewer said, “So you’re the parent and the child.” Apple replied, “Well, I mean, you always have to be.”

Every time I read a piece like Pamela Paul’s “Let Children Get Bored Again,” I want to cross out the word “children” and write “us.”

Let children us get bored again.
Let children us play.
Let children us go outside.

Etc.

The problem with parenting tips is that the best way to help your children become the kind of person you want them to be is by surrounding them with the kinds of people you want them to be. This includes you.

You can’t tell kids anything. Kids want to be like adults. They want to do what the adults are doing. You have to let them see adults behaving like the whole, human beings you’d like them to be.

If we want to raise whole human beings, we have to become whole human beings ourselves.

This is the really, really hard work.

Want your kids to read more? Let them see you reading every day.

Want your kids to practice an instrument? Let them see you practicing an instrument.

Want your kids to spend more time outside? Let them see you without your phone.

There’s no guarantee that your kids will copy your modeling, but they’ll get a glimpse of an engaged human. As my twitter pal, Lori Pickert, author of Project-Based Homeschooling, tweeted a few years ago:
parents keep trying to push their kids toward certain interests when it works so much better to just dig into those interests yourself

oh, wait .. those aren’t YOUR interests? so you don’t want to dig into them? they aren’t your child’s interests either; why would THEY?

joyfully dig into your own interests and share all the ensuing wins, frustrations, struggles, successes

let your kids love what they love

when you share your learning and doing, you don’t make them also love (whatever); you DO show them how great it is to do meaningful work

If you spend more time in your life doing the things that you love and that you feel are worthwhile, the kids in your life will get hip to what that looks like.

“If adults can show what they love in front of kids, there’ll be some child who says, ‘I’d like to be like that!’ or ‘I’d like to do that!’” said Fred Rogers. He told a story about a sculptor in a nursery school he was working in when he was getting his master’s degree in child development:

[video: "Mister Rogers - attitudes are caught, not taught"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDojoOiKLuc]
There was a man who would come every week to sculpt in front of the kids. The director said, “I don’t want you to teach sculpting, I want you to do what you do and love it in front of the children.” During that year, clay was never used more imaginatively, before or after…. A great gift of any adult to a child, it seems to me, is to love what you do in front of the child. I mean, if you love to bicycle, if you love to repair things, do that in front of the children. Let them catch the attitude that that’s fun. Because you know, attitudes are caught, not taught.”

It’s like a Show Your Work! lesson for parenting: Show the kids in your life the work that you love."
workinginpublic  children  parenting  howeteach  howwelearn  education  learning  examples  loripickert  fionaapple  jimhenson  fredrogers  pamelapaul  austinkleon  modeling  interests  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  passion 
february 2019 by robertogreco
You can't teach writing (and why would you want to?) | The Open School
"volunteering as an after-school tutor for 1st through 8th graders. The place was technically a writing center, situated in suburban Seattle, and open, free of charge, to any kid in the city. Its mission was to help kids learn to write, which would presumably improve their school performance and their prospects for life success.

I walked past that writing center today (I’m visiting Seattle this summer), and spent a moment reminiscing fondly. I remembered the always-warm atmosphere and the kind, helpful teachers. I remembered the fun activities and writing prompts.

Then I remembered why I left, and why I can never work or volunteer at such a place ever again. In the final months of my volunteership, my faith in the basic premise of the writing center faded. The founders of that organization, and the dedicated people who staffed it every day, had to believe wholeheartedly in two things. And I no longer believed in either of those things.

Here are the two necessary beliefs:

1. It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing.
2. Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable.

And here is why I don’t believe those things anymore.

Belief #1: It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing
Writing is hard. I suspect that people who seek writing instruction are feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty of the task and are looking for a way to make it easier — maybe some tips or tricks that the pros use which have somehow been kept secret from us plebeians. But there is no shortcut, no quick fix. There is only lots and lots of work.

A belief in the power of teaching shifts the responsibility for growth off of the learner and onto the teacher. This can only result in slacking on the learner’s part, frustration on the teacher’s part, and a bit of magical thinking to maintain the illusion of success in spite of perfect failure.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, offered this piece of advice:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Perhaps On Writing would have been a fine book even if King had left it at that. By reading a lot, you develop a sense for what good writing looks like and what bad writing looks like — just as a child learns her native language by listening to people talk a lot and learns to detect good grammar and bad grammar. She can’t define good grammar, but she knows it when she hears it.

Once you have that sense, you can start producing your own writing. You’re terrible at first, but now you know you’re terrible because you have that sense. Then you try it a different way and maybe it’s a little better, or maybe not. Then you read some more and refine your sense. Then you practice writing some more.

I suppose a writing teacher can provide prompts, but then again, so can a computer.

I’m reminded of this discouraging piece of wisdom from bestselling novelist Haruki Murakami:

“Being a novelist isn’t a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or even suggested that I be a novelist—in fact, some tried to stop me. I simply had the idea to be one, and that’s what I did.”

A person who loves and values writing will read a lot and write a lot on their own initiative. You don’t need to tell them to write and you certainly don’t need to make them. A person who doesn’t love or value writing will not write, and that’s that. Which brings us to belief #2…

Belief #2: Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable
I suspect that 9 out of 10 of the kids who attend that writing center do not really care about writing, or only care about writing text messages.

I suspect that their parents want them to care about writing, or want them to get good at writing despite not caring about it.

I know that the staff feel, as I do, that writing is the bomb! We love to write and we love to share our love of writing with kids.

But further, the staff believe, as I no longer believe, that writing is inherently, objectively, and universally interesting and valuable. They believe that if a kid doesn’t like writing, it is our job as teachers to inspire a love of writing within them — to awaken that dormant fire that must exist deep down in every person. This process of inspiration can be arduous and uncomfortable, as depicted in this cartoon (which was shared on Facebook by one of those teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week):

[image]

This cartoon is a feel-good fantasy for teachers. No kid has ever been inspired by being chased down and violated. Some kids discover a passion for writing and some don’t. Teachers like to seek validation by pointing to the kids who ultimately discovered a love of writing and saying, “That was me, I did that.” They rarely draw attention to the vastly more numerous kids who were not inspired.

We all have a tendency to feel as though our personal interests are shared by all of humanity. We want others to get excited about the things we get excited about. It’s a way of connecting with one another. We have to learn, by repeatedly butting up against the stubbornness of other people’s interests and values, that everyone is different.

And it’s good that everyone is different! Maybe I’m good at writing but someone else is good at speaking, and yet another person is good at presenting graphs and charts. There is no end to the variation. We compliment others’ weaknesses with our strengths.

I can never go back to that writing center because the very premise of the writing center is this: kids who don’t want to write should be manipulated into writing anyway. Manipulating people in that way has no appeal to me. I look at the above cartoon and imagine myself chasing down that poor kid and prying off his skull while he’s crying in pain and it makes me sick. I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with children.

It’s okay if a kid doesn’t like to write. And it’s okay if he does like to write. I have a notebook, a pen, and a stack of books that he can use anytime."
writing  openschool  aaronbrowder  teaching  teachingwriting  pedagogy  2018  howwewrite  universality  unschooling  deschooling  education  compulsion  compulsory  interest  interests  schooling  schooliness 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Dewey knew how to teach democracy and we must not forget it | Aeon Essays
"In 1897, Dewey described his ‘pedagogic creed’ as ‘individualistic’ and ‘socialistic’ because it sees the need to nurture each child’s unique talents and interests in a supportive community. …

For Dewey, however, it was not enough to ensure that his own children received a good education. He maintained that the future of US democracy hinged on offering a well-rounded, personalised education to all children and not just those of the wealthy, intelligent or well-connected. Dewey’s pedagogic creed is that ‘education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform’. Schools could teach students and communities to exercise autonomy and make democracy a concrete reality. The very name of the Laboratory School suggests that Dewey wanted the ideas developed there to be disseminated among education researchers and policymakers. What was unacceptable was a two-tiered education system that reinforced class and racial divisions. …

Why does this matter? Progressive education teaches children to pursue their own interests and exercise their voice in their community. In the 20th century, these kinds of young people participated in the movements against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. They founded Greenpeace and Students for a Democratic Society, listened to the Beatles and attended Woodstock, and established artistic communities and organic groceries. Though Dewey was not a beatnik, a hippy or a countercultural figure himself, his philosophy of education encourages young people to fight for a world where everyone has the freedom and the means to express their own personality. The education reform movement is not just about making kids take standardised tests; it is about crushing a rebellious spirit that often gives economic and political elites a headache. …

Dewey’s philosophy exercised a profound impact on US education in the mid-20th century. One reason is that many powerful individuals and groups advocated his ideas, including at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as at the Progressive Education Association, at the US Office of Education and at state departments of education. Dewey’s influence peaked during the ‘Great Compression’, the decades after the Second World War when the middle class had the clout to say that what is good for wealthy people’s kids is what is good for their own. In Democracy and Education, Dewey envisioned schools ‘equipped with laboratories, shops and gardens, where dramatisations, plays and games are freely used’. If a public school has a gymnasium, an art studio, a garden, a playground or a library, then one can see Dewey’s handiwork.

In 1985, a few scholars wrote a book called The Shopping Mall High School to deride the tendency in the US to offer a wide array of courses, many of which have a tenuous connection to academic subjects. For Dewey, however, the other side of this story is that schools and communities were trying to find ways to engage children. As we shall see, Dewey did not think that schools should simply pander to children’s current interests. At the same time, he opposed efforts to impose a ready-made curriculum on children across the country – or, more pointedly, on those whose parents could not afford to send them to private schools. …

The task of the teacher, according to Dewey, is to harness the child’s interest to the educational process. ‘The problem of instruction is thus that of finding material which will engage a person in specific activities having an aim or purpose of moment or interest to him.’ Teachers can employ Dewey’s insight by having a pet rabbit in the classroom. As students take care of the animal, and watch it hop about the classroom, they become interested in a host of topics: how to feed animals, the proper care of animals, the occupation of veterinarians, and biology. Rather than teach material in an abstract manner to young children, a wise teacher brings the curriculum into ‘close quarters with the pupil’s mind’.

According to Dewey, teachers should cultivate a student’s natural interest in the flourishing of others. It is a mistake to interpret interest as self-interest. Our thriving is intimately connected with the flourishing of other people. The role of democratic education is to help children see their own fate as entwined with that of the community’s, to see that life becomes richer if we live among others pursuing their own interests. Democracy means ‘equitably distributed interests’. All children – rich, poor, black, white, male, female, and so forth – should have the opportunity to discover and cultivate their interests. Schools ought to be the site where we model a society that reconciles individualism and socialism, and that allows each child to add her own distinct voice to society’s choir.

What is controversial about Dewey’s concept of interest? Sometimes, far-right groups share the following quote attributed to Dewey: ‘Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.’ There is no factual basis for this attribution, and for good reason: it contravenes Dewey’s ambition to achieve a higher synthesis between strong-willed individuals and a democratic society, not to crush a child’s individuality for the sake of social uniformity. Dewey makes this point crystal clear in his essay ‘The School and Society’ (1899), where he announces a Copernican revolution in education whereby ‘the child becomes the sun about which the appliances of education revolve’.

Here, then, we understand the explosive core of Dewey’s philosophy of education. He wants to empower children to think for themselves and cooperate with each other. The purpose of widely distributing interests is to break down ‘barriers of class, race, and national territory’ and ‘secure to all the wards of the nation equality of equipment for their future careers’. Imagine a world without racism or sexism, one where all children get the same kind of education as the wisest and wealthiest parents demand for their own children, and one that trains workers to question whether their interests are being served by the current ownership and use of the means of production. Dewey is the spiritual head of the New Left whose writings have both inspired teachers and infused schools, and provoked a reaction from those who detest this political vision. …

Dewey believes that educators need to place themselves in the mind of the child, so to speak, to determine how to begin their education journeys. ‘An end which is the child’s own carries him on to possess the means of its accomplishment.’ Many parents who take their families to children’s museums are acting upon this idea. A good museum will teach children for hours without them ever becoming conscious of learning as such. Climbing through a maze gives children opportunities to solve problems; floating vessels down an indoor stream teaches children about water and hydrodynamics; building a structure with bricks and then placing it on a rumbling platform introduces children to architecture: all of these activities make learning a joy.

For Dewey, however, it is essential that educators lead children on a considered path to the cutting-edge of scientific knowledge on a multitude of topics. A good teacher will place stimuli in front of children that will spark their imagination and inspire them to solve the problem at hand. The goal is to incrementally increase the challenges so that students enter what the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 1920s called ‘the zone of proximal development’ where they stretch their mental faculties. At a certain point, children graduate from museums and enter a more structured curriculum. There can be intermediary or supplementary steps – say, when they make a business plan, learn to sail, or intern at an architect’s office. Eventually, teachers have to rely on traditional methods of reading, lecturing and testing to make sure that students learn the material.

In the conclusion to ‘The Child and the Curriculum’, Dewey enjoins: ‘Let the child’s nature fulfil its own destiny, revealed to you in whatever of science and art and industry the world now holds as its own.’ He has faith that the child’s nature will find expression in the highest forms of human endeavour and that, for example, a kindergarten artist might grow into an accomplished painter. Dewey also believes that individual expression tends to lead to socially beneficial activities. These articles of faith are not necessarily vindicated by experience. Sometimes children choose the wrong path, and sometimes well-educated individuals seek to profit from other people’s misery. …

Dewey shows us that appeals to democracy carry weight. We recoil at the notion that some children deserve a better education than others because of their parents’ political or economic status. Nobody will say with a straight face that wealthy children should be raised to lead, while middle- or lower-class children are raised to follow, or that the kind of education available at the finest private schools in the US should be an exclusive privilege of those born with silver spoons in their mouths. ‘What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.’ Dewey’s words ring as true today as they did a century ago. In the face of the unrelenting attack of the education reform movement, we must fight to actualise Dewey’s vision of great schools providing the foundation for a living democracy."
via:anne  education  johndewey  sfsh  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  lcproject  democracy  schools  learning  pedagogy  society  individualism  individuals  community  class  inequality  us  policy  rttt  nclb  anationatrisk  race  training  howweteach  meaning  purpose  elitism  theshoppingmallhighschool  edhirsch  hannaharendt  vygotsky  zpd  interests  interest-basedlearning  children  criticalthinking  autonomy  interest-drivenlearning 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Reading Wars: Why Natural Learning Fails in Classrooms | Psychology Today
"Researchers have conducted systematic case studies of precocious readers, through interviews of parents, and have compared them with other children to see if they are unique in any ways other than their early reading. The results of such studies, overall, support the following conclusions:[1,2]

• Precocious reading does not depend on unusually high IQ or any particular personality trait. Although some precocious readers have IQ scores in the gifted range, many others score about average. Personality tests likewise reveal no consistent differences between precocious readers and other children.

• Precocious reading is not strongly linked to social class. Some studies have found it to be as frequent in blue-collar as in white-collar families. However, it does seem to depend on growing up in a family where reading is a common and valued activity.

• Parents of precocious readers report that they or an older sibling often read to the child, but did not in any systematic way attempt to teach reading. In the typical case, the parents at some point discovered, to their surprise, that their child was reading, at least in a preliminary way, and then they fostered that reading by providing appropriate reading materials, answering the child’s questions about words, and in some cases pointing out the relationship between letters and sounds to help with unfamiliar words. In essentially no cases, however, did they provide anything like the systematic training in either phonics or word recognition that might occur in school.

In sum, precocious readers appear to be children who grow up in a literate home and, for some unknown reason (unlike even their siblings in the same home), develop an intense early interest in reading. Interest, not unusual brain development, is what distinguishes them from others. Because they are interested and strongly motivated, they use whatever cues are available to figure out the meanings of printed words and sentences, and, along the way, with or without help, consciously or unconsciously, they eventually infer the underlying phonetic code and use it to read new words. For them, reading for meaning comes first, before phonics. In the words of one set of researchers, “[The precocious readers] were not taught the prerequisite skills of reading such as phoneme-grapheme correspondence or letter-naming skills but, instead, learned to read familiar, meaningful sight vocabulary; the rules of reading were not explicitly taught but apparently inferred over time.”[1]

The fact that precocious readers learn to read relatively quickly, before they are four years old, with no evidence of stress and much evidence of pleasure, suggests that learning to read in this way is not very difficult when a person really wants to do it. Learning to read, for them, quite literally, is child's play.

How unschoolers and children in democratic or free schools learn to read

In a previous report (here), I presented a qualitative analysis of case histories of learning to read by children in unschooling families (who don’t send their children to school or teach a curriculum at home) and by children at the Sudbury Valley School (where students are in charge of their own education and there is no imposed curriculum or instruction). I won’t repeat that work in detail here, but, in brief, some of the main conclusions were these: (1) Children in these settings learn to read at a wide variety of ages; (2) at whatever age they learn, they learn quite quickly when they are truly motivated to do so; (3) attempts by parents to teach reading to unmotivated children generally fail and often seem to delay the child's interest in reading; and (4) being read to and engaging in meaningful ways with literary material with skilled readers (older children or adults) facilitates learning.

In sum, these children seem to learn to read in essentially the same ways that precocious readers learn, but at a wide variety of ages. They learn when and because they are interested in reading, and they use whatever information is available to help them, including information provided by people who already know how to read. They are not systematically taught, and the people who help them generally have no training or expertise in the teaching of reading.

The reading wars, and the failure of progressive methods of reading instruction in schools

We turn now from self-motivated children learning to read out of school to children who are taught in school, where the assumption is that they must learn to read at a certain age and in a certain way, whether they want to or not. In school, learning to read appears to be unnatural and difficult. It occurs at a snail’s pace, incrementally over several years, Even after three or four years of training many children are not fluent readers.

Progressive educators have always argued that learning to read should not be slow and tedious. They have argued for “whole-word” and “whole-language” methods of teaching reading, which, they claim, are more natural and pleasurable than phonics-first methods. Although the progressive educators commonly think of themselves as proposing something new, contrasted with “traditional education,” the progressive arguments actually go back at least to the origin of compulsory state schooling in America. Horace Mann, the first secretary of education in any state in the union, who oversaw the passage of the first state compulsory education law (in Massachusetts, in 1852), fought for the whole-word approach and railed against phonics. In the early 20th century John Dewey and progressive educators inspired by him were champions of holistic, reading-for-meaning approaches. Later, in the 1970s and ‘80s, Kenneth Goodman and Frank Smith took up the torch and promoted what they called the whole-language approach.

On the other side are those who have long argued that phonics is the key to reading and should be taught early and directly. Noah Webster, sometimes referred to as the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” was an early warrior in the phonics camp. In the late 18th century, he created the first series of books designed to teach reading and spelling in secular schools, and they were founded on phonics. In the mid 20th century, Rudolph Flesch turned the tide back toward phonics with his bestselling book, Why Johnny Can’t Read (1955). He argued convincingly that the progressive movement had produced a serious decline in reading ability in American schoolchildren because it ignored phonics. In the most recent two decades, the leading proponents of phonics include educational researchers who base their argument on experiments and data more than theory. Many carefully controlled experiments have by now been conducted to compare the reading scores of children taught by different methods in different classrooms, and the results of the great majority of them favor phonics.[3]

Because of their intensity and presumed importance, these debates about how to teach reading have long been dubbed “the Reading Wars.” Today, the majority (though not all) of the experts who have examined the data have declared that the wars are over—phonics has won. The data seem clear. Overall, children who are taught phonics from the beginning become better readers, sooner, than those who are taught by whole-word or whole-language methods. The learning is still slow and tedious, but not as slow and tedious for phonics learners as for those taught by other methods.

Why natural learning fails in classrooms

So, we have this puzzle. Out of school, children learn to read by what appear to be whole-word, whole-language methods. They read right off for meaning and they learn to recognize whole words and read whole passages before they pay much attention to individual letters or sounds. Phonics comes later, based on inferences that may be conscious or unconscious. Learning to read out of school is in some ways like learning oral language; you learn it, including the rules, with little awareness that you are learning it and little awareness of the rules that underlie it. But that doesn’t work well for learning to read in school. Learning there is better if you master the rules (the rules relating letters to sounds) before attending much to meaning. 

The mistake of the progressive educators, I think, has been to assume that the classroom is or can be a natural learning environment.  It isn’t, and (except in unusual circumstances) it can’t be. The classroom is a setting where you have a rather large group of children, all about the same age, and a teacher whose primary tasks are to keep order and impart a curriculum—the same curriculum for everyone. In that setting, the teacher decides what to do, not the students. If students decided, they would all decide on different things and there would be chaos. No matter how liberal-minded the teacher is, real, prolonged self-direction and self-motivation is not possible in the classroom. In this setting, children must suppress their own interests, not follow them. While children out of school learn what and because they want to, children in school must learn or go through the motions of learning what the teacher wants them to learn in the way the teacher wants them to do it. The result is slow, tedious, shallow learning that is about procedure, not meaning, regardless of the teacher’s intent.

The classroom is all about training. Training is the process of getting reluctant organisms to do or learn what the trainer wants them to do or learn. Under those conditions, methods that focus on the mechanical processes underlying reading—the conversion of sights to sounds—work better than methods that attempt to promote reading through meaning, which requires that students care about the meaning, which requires that they be able to follow their own interests, which is not possible in the classroom… [more]
education  reading  literacy  progressive  2016  petergray  children  teaching  learning  naturallearning  unschooling  schools  training  coercion  interests  emergentcurriculum  phonics  rules  wholelanguage  noahwebster  precociousreaders  precociousreading 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Rabbit-Hole Rabbit Hole - The New Yorker
"How did “rabbit hole,” which started its figurative life as a conduit to a fantastical land, evolve into a metaphor for extreme distraction? One obvious culprit is the Internet, which has altered to an indescribable degree the ways that we distract ourselves. Twenty years ago, you could browse for hours in a library or museum, spend Saturday night at the movies and Sunday at the mall, kill an afternoon at the local video arcade or an evening at its X-rated analogue—but you couldn’t do those things every day, let alone all day and night. Moreover, content-wise, you couldn’t leapfrog very far or very fast from wherever you started, and there was a limit to the depth and nichiness of what you were likely to find; back then, we had not yet paved the road between, say, Dorothy Hamill and a comprehensive list of Beaux-Arts structures in Manhattan, nor archived for the convenience of humankind ten thousand photographs of fingernail art. Then came the Internet, which operates twenty-four hours a day, boasts a trillion-plus pages, and breeds rabbit holes the way rabbits breed rabbits.

Those online rabbit holes, while wildly variable in content, take recognizable forms. One is iterative: you’re settling down to work when you suddenly remember that you meant to look up that flannel shirt you saw in a store but couldn’t find in your size, and the next thing you know, it’s two hours later and you have scrutinized two hundred and forty-five flannel shirts. Another is exhaustive: you go in search of a particular fact—say, when Shamu debuted at SeaWorld—and soon enough you are well on your way to compiling a definitive account of captive killer whales. A third is associative: you look up one thing, which leads to looking up something distantly related, which leads to looking up something even further afield, which—hey, cool Flickr set of Moroccan sheep. Thus have I have gone from trying to remember the name of a Salinger short story (“Last Day of the Last Furlough”) to looking up the etymology of “furlough” (Dutch) to wondering whether it had any relationship to “furlong” (no) to jogging my memory about the exact distance represented by that unit of measure (an eighth of a mile), to watching approximately every major horse race since the development of the movie camera.

Experiences like these are so common today that, if Carroll had never written “Alice in Wonderland,” we would have needed to invent some other way to describe them. (We might have been aided in that quest by the fact that both nets and webs connote capture and entanglement. Or maybe by analogy to sinkholes we’d have linkholes, or perhaps we’d all get stuck in hypertraps.) But why, one wonders, was “rabbit hole” such a natural appropriation? Granted, Alice, too, accidentally wound up in a convoluted environment, spent more time there than she anticipated, couldn’t find a way out, and emerged, when she finally did, rather dazed. But much the same could be said of Dorothy in Oz, and of a great many others characters transported—by cyclone, wardrobe, mirror, or tollbooth—to mysterious lands.

As a metaphor for our online behavior, however, the rabbit hole has an advantage those other fictional portals lack: it conveys a sense of time spent in transit. In the original story, Alice falls for quite a while—long enough to scout out the environment, grab some food off a passing shelf, speculate erroneously about other parts of the world, drift into a reverie about cats, and nearly fall asleep. Sounds like us on the Internet, all right. In the current use of “rabbit hole,” we are no longer necessarily bound for a wonderland. We’re just in a long attentional free fall, with no clear destination and all manner of strange things flashing past.

For us Alices, these journeys into the rabbit hole can feel accidental and out of our control; thus do we describe them as “falling,” rather than leaping. That’s a somewhat disingenuous take, since there’s no such thing as digital gravity, but it’s true that many Web sites are deliberately designed to function as rabbit holes, and the most successful are routinely described as such. "



"Consider armadillos. Consider digitigrades. Consider all of this, and I don’t see how you can regard rabbit holes as anything other than boundlessly interesting and terrifically fun. And yet, as the phrase has grown more popular, it has acquired a largely negative undertone. By far its most famous post-“Alice” use appears in “The Matrix,” in a context that is unmistakably dystopian. (Morpheus, on offering Neo the red pill: “You stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”) Conspiracy theorists, likewise, love rabbit holes, for the suggestion of a hidden reality beneath the semblance of things, and even the cheery and the sane increasingly use the phrase to describe anything that is dark, unpleasant, or byzantine. The American criminal-justice system is sometimes characterized as a rabbit hole, as is U.S. health insurance, Verizon tech support, and anything having to do with United Airlines. The phrase has even evolved an off-label use to describe a downward spiral in mental health. In 2012, Taylor Swift cautioned against going “too far down the rabbit hole of what people think about you,” and an article on depression refers to people thinking, “ ‘I’m worthless,’ and off down the rabbit hole they go.”

In all of these cases—dystopia, conspiracy, bureaucracy, despair—the salient feature of the rabbit hole is that you cannot find your way out. That can also seem true of our semi-accidental online excursions, but the rabbit hole as metaphor for distraction is not a purely negative thing. Unlike “time sink” or “time suck” or just plain “waste of time,” “falling down the rabbit hole,” when used in this sense, suggests not a total loss but a guilty pleasure. Sure, we could have spent those hours reading Thomas Mann—but go tell that to Alice. When her story begins, she is terribly bored: not just in general, by the prospect of a slow summer day, but in specific, by what we would today call long-form writing. “And what is the use of a book,” she wonders, after glancing over her older sister’s shoulder, “without pictures or conversations?”

Of many uses, this book critic would hasten to tell her. But I would say much the same thing about rabbit holes and the headlong, hopscotching, borderline-random encounters they enable. And I wouldn’t be the first. In “Tristram Shandy,” Laurence Sterne wrote, “Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine—they are the life and soul of reading.” In “The Anatomy of Melancholy,” Robert Burton described his mind as “like a ranging spaniel, that barks at every bird he sees.” That’s the happiest image of intellectual appetite I’ve ever encountered, and I suspect that Burton—and Sterne, too—would have appreciated the current proliferation of rabbit holes. The common charge against our online habits is that they are shallow; but, in keeping with the metaphor, rabbit holes deepen our world. They remind us of the sheer abundance of stuff available to think about, the range of things in which it is possible to grow interested. Better still, they present knowledge as pleasure. The modern rabbit hole, unlike the original, isn’t a means to an end. It’s an end in itself—an end without end, inviting us ever onward, urging us to keep becoming, as Alice would say, curiouser and curiouser."
kathrynschulz  rabbitholes  books  culture  reading  time  2015  internet  online  web  cv  curiosity  distraction  howweread  hyperlinks  hypertext  howwelearn  interests 
june 2015 by robertogreco
(SL) DISTIN 15 (This is what happens.)
"Looking, really looking, at art (some might say seeing…feeling) is like this: It is like all the other really amazing things in life…You do it too much & you forget how good it can actually be…you become jaded. You don’t get enough & it is all you can think about—the good & the bad. Then, there is one photo…drawing…performance & you want to know all there is to know about it…It is a little bit like falling in love. It’s best, most exciting, when you don’t know why you like something…the thing you are looking at is something you might usually be inclined to dislike…But, with this, you cannot stop looking, cannot stop thinking. And so, in every other thing that you think about, talk about, read about, talk about, read about, you start to see it in all of those other things, whether or not they, directly, have anything to do with that thing you are suddenly, entirely, falling for…all of those other things have changed. And everything that you thought you knew is no longer the same."
rabbitholes  looking  taste  feeling  artappreciation  interestedness  interest  interests  thinking  howwelearn  evolution  understanding  appreciation  art  love  2011  passion  obsession  wittgenstein  change  yearning  learning  noticing  seeing  saradistin  canon  interested  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Well, Duh! -- Ten Obvious Truths That We Shouldn’t Be Ignoring
1. Much of the material students are required to memorize is soon forgotten; 2. Just knowing a lot of facts doesn’t mean you’re smart; 3. Students are more likely to learn what they find interesting; 4. Students are less interested in whatever they’re forced to do and more enthusiastic when they have some say; 5. Just because doing x raises standardized test scores doesn’t mean x should be done; 6. Students are more likely to succeed in a place where they feel known and cared about; 7. We want children to develop in many ways, not just academically; 8. Just because a lesson (or book, or class, or test) is harder doesn't mean it's better; 9. Kids aren’t just short adults; 10. Substance matters more than labels"
education  alfiekohn  testing  discipline  interestdriven  teaching  standardizedtesting  learning  schools  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  memorization  toshare  facts  understanding  meaning  interests  coercion  childhood  parenting  policy  assessment  measurement  cv  progressive  classroommanagement  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Obama and the Passions - NYTimes.com
"Contrary to Enlightenment expectations, the uncontrolled pursuit of interests, whether by individual or a class, proved just as proficient at disturbing social peace as the mindless pursuit of glory. Neither reason, grace, nor considerations of self-interest could settle the problem of the passions once and for all…<br />
<br />
The Great Recession & Tea Party’s ire, directed at Democrats & Republicans alike, suggest that this second political dispensation is coming to an end & that Americans’ passions are ready to be redirected once again. Having been dealt a bad hand, President Obama may have only a slim chance of doing that, but he has absolutely none if he limits himself to appealing to people’s interests. That’s not been the American experience of change. In our politics, history doesn’t happen when a leader makes an argument, or even strikes a pose. It happens when he strikes a chord. & you don’t need charts & figures to do that; in fact they get in the way. You only need 2 words…"
politics  passion  change  2010  reagan  reaganomics  kennedy  jfk  interests  economics  policy  reform  greatrecession  teaparty  adamsmith  hobbes  socrates  reason  behavior  society  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
Why American Mothers are Superior
"Lots of middle managers like people to do exactly what told…

Schools really like people to do what they're told, & unis just love grad students who pay high out-of-state tuition, teach for low wages, or work in lab for free. Hey, don’t blame us if 30% of students we admit are from other countries, they did best on tests & had 4.0…

Someone ought to ask WHY we measure what we measure…tests we give & other admissions criteria were not handed down by God…

I doubt many unis would admit student like me today…I did have an intense desire to learn about world…my undergrad ed gave me gift of profs willing to respond to my interests, enough time not to interfere w/ my relationship w/ library, & classmates I argued w/ for pure intellectual exercise…

Dr. Chua is raising children to fit Ivy League…I’m raising…to be themselves…Her definition of success is to have…prodigies. Mine…who learn, live & love well. She’s a success by her standards as I am by mine."
parenting  education  culture  tcsnmy  freedom  interests  interestdriven  duty  cv  teaching  schools  schooling  schooliness  identity  prodigies  admissions  gpa  testing  standardizedtesting  passion  learning  well-being  china  society  success  meaning  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  amychua  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
There has to be more… « The Principal of Change
"Now though, how do schools help students engage in their own learning? We have set curriculum that tells us what students need to know. As long as we meet that, have we done our job as a teacher? If I have a student who loves dinosaurs, but it is not in my curriculum, what compels me to let the student learn about this?

Technically, if the student shows they know and understand the curriculum, we have done our job.

How sad is the above statement?

As I gain experience as an educator, why do I continuously feel that if all we have done as a school is taught the curriculum, we have failed our kids?"
change  johntaylorgatto  education  curriculum  curriculumisdead  engagement  teaching  schools  unschooling  deschooling  learning  tcsnmy  interests  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education | Video on TED.com
"Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching."
holeinthewall  outdoctrination  sugatamitra  unschooling  deschooling  education  teaching  learning  engagement  ted  technology  computers  india  africa  italy  autodidacts  self-directedlearning  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  interestdriven  interests  collaboration  internet  hyderabad  curiosity  speech  english  accents  speech2text  arthurcclarke  computing  cambodia  southafrica  games  play  gaming  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
The one thing you need to know (from the archives) « Re-educate
"“cognitive psychologists explain [..]. that when an event occurs, you store in your memory not only the specifics of the event, but also how this event made you feel. Over time, as more events occur, you build up a network of event memories all connected by the fact that they created in you a similar emotion. So when a new event occurs that makes you feel incompetent, the entire network of events-where-you-feel-incompetent lights up, making it almost impossible for you not to think about them. Negative thoughts will activate thoughts of past failings, whereas positive moods will activate thoughts of past successes.”
education  stevemiranda  learning  progressive  schools  schooling  deschooling  quitting  interests  psychology  cognition  pscs  memory  feelings  emotions  networks  brain  success  failure  mood  dropouts  tcsnmy  lcproject  pugetsoundcommunityschool 
august 2010 by robertogreco
0-for-3 « Re-educate
"“Teens with high levels of sparks, voice and relationships do better on every academic, psychological, social-emotional and behavioral outcome, signaling that youth with all three strengths are already on the path to success in school, work and life. Yet more than one-third of 15-year-olds surveyed did not score high on any of the strengths, and only 7 percent experience high levels of all three strengths.”
stevemiranda  interests  engagement  teens  adolescence  relationships  voice  choice  conrol  influence  teaching  learning  schools  tcsnmy  education  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Getting the Most Out of Twitter, No Posting Necessary - NYTimes.com
"The truth is, you don’t have to post a message to get the most out of Twitter.

At its best, the social medium is a perpetual, personalized news service about topics of your choosing — whether health care reform, tech news or the latest episode of “Gossip Girl” — filtered and served to you by people who care a lot about what you care a lot about.

Even the most prolific users say Twitter has become more useful as a way to tap in to the discussions of the day than to broadcast their own thoughts. And once you get pulled in, you might just find you have something to say after all.

Biz Stone, Twitter’s co-founder, suggests that naysayers simply log on to Twitter’s home page and search for a topic they are interested in, whether it’s their favorite sports team, the name of their company or a topic in the news.

Within a minute, they understand the appeal, he said." [continues with more suggestions]
howto  microblogging  twitter  interests  edtech  learning 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Tale of Two Freshmen « Re-educate
“son is freshman in college...dear friend’s nephew is a freshman in college as well. That’s about where the similarity ends...My son is thriving...never received any grades in middle or high school...didn’t take the SAT...encouraged & mentored to discover his interests & build on his strengths...developed intrinsic motivation & commitment to personal integrity...nephew is floundering. She thinks he may be depressed...wondering why he’s even in school? When asked what he cares about or wants to pursue, he comes up blank...unaccustomed to those kinds of questions; he’s been too busy following script to get into college...Paradoxically...thrived in high school...4.0 GPA, AP classes, high test scores & choice of at least a few selective colleges...family supported him in doing everything they believed would get him into a “good” school...thought that was key to his future success. As parents, we’re always focused on doing what’s best for our kids. But what if what we think is best, isn’t?”
education  intrinsicmotivation  grades  grading  assessment  colleges  universities  admissions  burnout  schools  schooling  standardizedtesting  sat  interests  comparison  anecdote  parenting  depression  cv  tcsnmy  lcproject  learning  deschooling  unschooling  alternative 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Spotlight on DML | Constance Steinkuehler: Digital Montessori for Big Kids
"Virtual worlds are like digital montessori for big kids. Virtual worlds are interest-driven learning environments in which the learner is purposefully surrounded with well chosen and well-designed symbolic and material tools and artifacts. They enable th
virtual  virtualworlds  children  teens  learning  interestdriven  self-directed  immersion  community  interests  technology  education  games  gaming 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Kevin Kelly - Narrative (Stuff I'm interested in now, or was interested in before.)
"My educational background is minimal. Instead of college, I went to Asia. That was one of the best decisions I ever made."
kevinkelly  schooling  education  autobiography  learning  interests  books  unschooling  deschooling  travel  exploration  alternative 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Creative Generalist: Leonardos
"From this article about science-culture hybrid champion Seed Media Group's foray into a blog network [also something Maisonneuve pioneered early (but, sadly, appears to have neglected lately)] comes mention of a new target group: "Leonardos". Yeah, as in
generalists  culture  science  interests  hobbies  careers  life 
february 2006 by robertogreco
Worthwhile: ADD, Dillettante- or Renaissance Soul?
"A Ben Franklin with many passions (as opposed to a Mozart with a single, driving one,) the Renaissance Soul may job-hop so quickly it seems like a jig and have trouble staying on task - but may also be incredibly innovative, creative and successful, espe
generalists  life  careers  hobbies  interests  ideas 
february 2006 by robertogreco

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