Tuesday, January 29, 2008

LEGO 50th Anniversary

Playing with Lego promotes creativity, spacial knowledge and imagination and as other tools Lego helps developing emotional values and social intelligence through collective play, (socio)dramatic play and narrative play.
In general, playing contributes to the development of emotional values and a positive self-esteem through the mastery over the tools and the imaginary worlds the player creates.

All experiences during play educate the player by providing enjoyable and sometimes not so enjoyable experiences (frustration if the construction is not working as intended). Lego elements have been produced until today. Lego figurines populate the globe.
And - LEGO is the world leading tire manufacturer.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Free dictionaries

Some online educational portals try to convince teachers and students to subscribe because they offer "for free" commercial resources like online dictionaries and encyclopedias. For free - meaning that the state has spent enormous sums to pay licenses. I can't help but finding this strategy quite odd as there are lots of useful yet really free resources on the net that most Internet literate students know about and use on a daily basis during homework.

Here are some of my favourite online dictionaries which I use:

NetLingo.com - The Internet Dictionary with thousands of terms about the online world of business, technology, and communication, including acronyms, text messaging shorthand, smileys, and more :-)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Changing Education

After having worked as a primary school teacher, ICT trainer, research coordinator for 20 years I quit my (well paid) job as a state official to found the company EducDesign.

So far EducDesign has implemented some interesting long term ICT, teacher training and school development projects in public and private schools in Luxembourg and invested a lot of its resources in the development the portal solution OLEFA which offers some great open tools for creative learning (Storyboard, Tiparlo, Wiki, Webbook) and resources management (library, multimedia data, teaching materials, etc.).

From my experience at school as a teacher I knew already that change in education is very slow and that substantial change is hard to achieve.

I have also experienced that people who try to move the system from within are rarely granted for their efforts and sometimes leave school or if they stay, resign and isolate themselves in their classroom until retirement.

So what's the situation in Luxembourgish education today? Well, I must say that nobody really knows which way the country is going. On one hand, a lot of teachers started to develop their teaching practice (or at least to reflect on it) as there seemed to be a positive political climate for change (mostly due to the disastrous results of Luxembourgish students in the PISA survey conducted by the OECD).

This move began after the latest elections which lead to a change at the head of the Ministry of Education. On the other hand, I have the strong impression that again a certain mistrust against "the system" is arising. Teachers feel that there is to much focus on some pilot projects which have little to do with their own situation in their "ordinary" school and a lot of inconsistencies between political messages and political decisions.

Le's see where this will end up, as we will have elections again next year.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Into the Wild

On Friday night I went to see the movie "Into the Wild" directed by Sean Penn and based on the nonfiction book by Jon Krakauer. It's the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man who, after getting his college degree leaves everything behind, his parents and his sister, his room and his car, gives away his money and even burns part of it, and goes off for a two years trip ending up in Alaska's wild nature.

The movie tells me that getting an educational degree or a driving license isn't enough to serve as a rite of passage to real life where you feel being more than a product of your nearest environment, composed by your family and its history or your schooling and the relationships you experience within or around your school life.

Definitely Shawn Penn is a great director and Emile Hirsch who plays Chris McCandless is just captivating.

As an "avant goût" visit the movie's website at www.intothewild.com.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wilhelm Busch (not Bush !)

Wilhelm Busch, the father of violent comics and satirical picture stories, died on the 9th January, 100 years ago. His Max and Moritz stories were published in 1865 and are well known all ower the world. And we all remember Teacher Lämpel's exploding pipe, don't we ?

(image from commons)


Going live of wikia - the new Wiki search engine. Le's be patient it's just the beginning. Don't expect to find what you are looking for until a collaborative community has been attracted and formed around the wiki farm. I will certainly keep an eye on this project.

At EducDesign we have been working on our own search engine for a while now. As a matter of fact, the idea was born two years ago. It's also only a first version but we think I could be growing rapidly. It's strongly focused on education and it's meant to be fed by people posting interesting sites they have discovered. If you want to have a look, visit the project at www.schoosi.com.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Education Today and Tomorrow

Education Today and Tomorrow - After all maybe Shakespeare wasn't so literate as we used to think!
Have a look at this great video it only last 2:30

And enjoy this one too, it lasts 4:44:

Obama's Educational Program

As always education is a big issue in the debates preceding presidential elections. So it is in the US.

Barack Obama's comprehensive plan to bring forward education in the US focuses on the following subjects:

  • Reform No Child Left Behind.
  • Ensure access to high-quality early childhood education programs and child care opportunities so children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
  • Work to place effective teachers in every classroom in America, especially those in high-poverty, high-minority areas.
  • Reward effective teachers for taking on challenging assignments and helping children succeed.
  • Support highly-effective principals and school leaders.
  • Make science and math education a national priority.
  • Reduce the high school dropout rate by focusing on proven methods to improve student achievement and enhance graduation and higher education opportunities.
  • Close the achievement gap and invest in what works.
  • Empower parents to raise healthy and successful children by taking a greater role in their child’s education at home and at school.

Some Reading Milestones

  • Towards reflexive method in archaeology : the example at Çatalhöyük (edited by Ian Hodder) 2000

  • The Book of Learning and Forgetting (Frank Smith) 1998

  • Points of Viewing Children's Thinking: A Digital Ethnographer's Journey (Ricki Goldman-Segall) 1997

  • Verstehen lehren (Martin Wagenschein) 1997

  • Computer im Schreibatelier (Gérard Gretsch) 1992

  • The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter. Uses of Storytelling in the Classroom (Vivian Gussin Paley) 1991

  • La cause des adolescents (Françoise Dolto) 1988

  • Scuola di Barbiana. Die Schülerschule. Brief an eine Lehrerin. (Edition of 1980) / read in German 1982
    Letter to Teacher by the Schoolboys of Barbiana (1970)
    Lettre à une maîtresse de'école, par les enfants de Barbiana (1968)
    Lettera à una professoressa (Original Edition) 1967

  • Vers une pédagogie institutionnelle (Aïda Vasquez, Fernand Oury) 1967

Documentary Films on Education

  • Eine Schule, die gelingt (by Reinhard Kahl) 2008

  • Les temps des enfants (Jacques Duez) 2007

  • Klassenleben (by Bernd Friedmann und Hubertus Siegert) 2006

  • Lernen - Die Entdeckung des Selbstverständlichen
    (Ein Vortrag von Manfred Spitzer) 2006

  • Die Entdeckung der frühen Jahre
    Die Initiative "McKinsey bildet" zur frühkindlichen Bildung (by Reinhard Kahl) 2006

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft - Wie in Deutschland Schulen gelingen (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft / Incubators of the future / Les serres de l'avenir; International Edition (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Journal de classe, 1ères audaces (1), Les échappés (2), Sexe, amour et vidéo (3), L'enfant nomade (4), Remue-méninges (5) (by Wilbur Leguebe, Jacques Duez, Agnès Lejeune) 2004

  • Spitze - Schulen am Wendekreis der Pädagogik (by Reinhard Kahl) 2003

  • Journal de classe, (by Wilbur Leguebe and Agnès Lejeune; Jacques Duez) 2002

  • Etre et Avoir (by Nicolas Philibert) 2002

  • The Stolen Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2002

  • The Angry Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2001

  • A l'école de la providence (by Gérard Preszow) 2000

  • Blue-Eyed (by Jane Elliott) 1996

  • A Class Divided (by Jane Elliott) 1984

  • Eye of The Storm (with Jane Elliott) 1970

Past quotes of the day

For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong. Henry Louis Mencken

Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.
Antonio Machado

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Immanuel Kant

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. Albert Einstein

To paraphrase a famous quotation, all that is necessary for the triumph of damaging educational policies is that good educators keep silent. Alfie Kohn

We used to have lots of questions to which there were no answers. Now, with the computer, there are lots of answers to which we haven't thought up the questions. Peter Ustinov

I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers. Woody Allen

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep. W. H. Auden

When I was an inspector of schools I visited one classroom and looked at a boys book. He'd written, 'Yesterday, Yesterday, Yesterday, Sorrow, Sorrow, Sorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Love, Love, Love.' I said, 'That's a lovely poem.' He said, 'Those are my spelling corrections.' Gervase Phinn

Real thinking never starts until the learner fails. Roger Schank

If what is wanted is a reexamination of schooling in terms of purpose, structure and process, then testing programmes are the wrong vehicle (...) Caroline V. Gipps

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Albert Einstein

Act always so as to increase the number of choices. Heinz von Foerster

Another way of avoiding teaching is by relying exclusively on a textbook, workbooks, and other commercially packaged learning materials. Teaching is reduced to administering a set curriculum without giving any thought to the substance of what the students area learning or to their particular needs. H. Kohl

The right to ignore anything that doesn't make sense is a crucial element of any child's learning - and the first right children are likely to lose when they get to the controlled learning environment of school. F. Smith

Learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity. - Ivan Illich

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. - Roger Lewin

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain