Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Making of Teachers

Since the reform of the teacher training at the newly created university in Luxembourg I have met a some teachers complaining that student teachers had been sent to their schools for practical training with their heads filled with theories about education, but lacking the most basic teaching skills. The answer to my question which kind of basic teaching skills they expected the students to have were not very clear to me and since I continue to ask myself: What is it that teachers do? And, how do you learn to become a teacher? But also, under what circumstances new answers to these questions could possibly be found.

For years, in Luxembourg, student teacher's practical pre-service training was (and sometimes still is) based on a collaboration between a single teacher working as a tutor and a single student teacher or a pair of student teachers. In this constellation, lesson planning, interpretation of the curriculum and reflection on pupils development is most of the time part of the hidden work of the teacher because she/he usually doesn't stay in school to accomplish these tasks. What teachers do in the presence of student teachers, is performing in front of the classroom, managing and coordinating pupils' tasks, and maintaining classroom order. And this is mainly what the student teachers can observe. The tutor serves as a role model, a master who transfers her/his knowledge to the apprentice, an experienced practitioner who rarely needs to refer to a theoretical framework to justify his/her choices, and seldom struggles - in public - for solution in the face of pedagogical dilemmas. The job of referring to theory and discussing pedagogical dilemmas is most of the time left to the university lecturers doing supervision and visiting the student teacher once or twice during their teaching practice at the school. The concept of a teacher that a student teacher has constructed throughout the years during her/his own school life is more or less equivalent to the concept she/he constructs during practical pre-service training. This pre-service training cloning approach strongly depends on finding good "self-made" teachers serving as tutors and as role models for future teachers. The schools in which they act, only play a secondary role.

Since more and more teachers have started to work in small teams (usually 3 to 5 teachers taking in charge an extended group of pupils) student teachers have the opportunity not only to copy teaching techniques from one isolated expert teacher but to witness the negotiations between teachers sharing ideas, preparing lessons together, defining common objectives and, hopefully, discussing the progression of their pupils and if there is enough time left, also discussing their personal understanding of their pedagogical mission. This insight in the off work is possible because when working in teams, teachers stay in school more often to do their preparation work instead of leaving the campus. Here student teachers can be present and develop a more realistic concept of what teachers do, when they don't "teach". But still, what we have here, is a reproductive cycle, a kind of single-loop learning, through which teachers or team-teachers are "made".

What is missing, is the opportunity for student teachers to be part of a deeper reflection in a school community on educational practices and purposes. They need to experience that the process of developing an explicit shared school culture transforms the teachers themselves. This can be the case in schools evolving as learning organizations, where single teachers and teacher teams are transformative actors pursuing a common goal. which is, developing their school, and at the same time, developing themselves, collaboratively. In such a school teachers meet not only to plan and organize but to controversially discuss their approaches, their key concepts and beliefs, as well as their relationship to teaching and learning. Here new patterns of teaching behavior and reflection can emerge which cannot be reduced to the change of a handful teachers' behaviors, attitudes and understanding alone.

The process of negotiating common objectives is inextricably linked with the effort to uncover espoused theories or tacit knowledge. But, this latter process doesn't take place when teacher communities engage in open discussions without an external participant observer or coach. When individuals are deeply involved in an organization it is extremely difficult to them to sustain enough mental and emotional distance to their roles to act simultaneously as observers. (What I don't mean here, is that schools are in need of charismatic leaders somehow intentionally controlling school development. The risk would be to high, that the organization falls back to a previous more or less stable state of evolution as soon as the leader leaves the organization, because new practices have been imposed to teachers instead of having been negotiated among them.)

If we want schools to evolve faster and better than today, becoming teachers should be exposed to communities of teachers articulating multiple perspectives on what learning and teaching means to them in general and in the specific context of institutionally organized education. Even more important, student teachers should not learn from but learn with teachers arguing in favor of their specific viewpoints by referring not exclusively to teaching experience or personal preferences, but also to their own learning biography and, of course, to theory and research.

But can this really be achieved if teachers are mainly used to refer to their experience and if they tend to ignore or even to depreciate theory and research? I don't think so. That's why we should stop keeping one process secret to the eyes of one of the actors and develop a practice school model where pre-service, in-service training and organizational development are strongly connected and not approached separately. In a framework where the making of teachers and the making of schools are deeply connected, theory will be easier recognized as being inevitable.

But what about research? Certainly there is great potential to do research in practice school where pre-service training, in-service training and school development are intentionally interconnected. But there is also a need to discuss the purpose of research and the types of research that should be in use. If the way to find new teaching patterns is not build on a behaviorist framework where mainly copy-paste or input-output processes are at work but on a complex adaptive system approach where self-organization gives room to emergence, creativity and unpredictability, the role of research is very different too. It tends more to describing the conditions under which a certain type of teaching and learning may be possible than to identifying in a linear way the link between specific actions and its presumed outcomes.

I would like to conclude by affirming that a best practice school is more than a school with good scores and some highly motivated expert teachers where universities can sent their students to.
Not only student teachers, but all actors involved, need to understand that teachers are not made during 4 of 5 years of higher education and by passing future teachers through some kind of cloning processes, but through an ongoing dialectical rearrangement of ideas, references and practices. To find new answers to questions like, What is it that teachers do? And, how do you learn to be a teacher? we have to change the circumstances under which these questions are posed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Neuroscience is a hype

Recently I attended a seminar on learning and emotion. A major part of the penal presentations were on neuroscience. As, according to Della Sala, the famous scientist, "neuroscience is a hype", no surprise then, that a lot of teachers were present to get an overview on the recent findings in that field. I suspect that anyone attending the conference Sergio probably has his on view on the subject of neuroscience and everyone listening carefully to the presentations found enough justifications for what he/she thinks is the right way to teach. As an example let's take the following statement: "Emotion and cognitive processes students engage in, cannot be dissociated."

For some teachers this means, that if the learner doesn't feel connected to the subjects he is supposed to learn, there will be little outcome of learning, even if efforts have been made by the teacher and hopefully by the student. The conclusion for those acknowledging this point of view would then be to link what should be learned to the personal interests and the personal context of the learner or to embed it in what the student has already identified as interesting. If such a link is not possible, than there is no use to try to force learning, as it will not last beyond the next test.

For others, the statement that emotion and cognition cannot be separated, means, that, whatever you think should be learned, should be wrapped up in a way so that it becomes interesting, and that the learner becomes motivated, no matter the subject and no matter her/his initial motivation. From this perspective, the good teacher has to know how to present a subject in an interesting and a seductive way and she/he has to have some knowledge on the "right" techniques to motivate students. Among those you'll find specific teaching and classroom management techniques as well as reinforcement techniques which could be anything from dissuasion to encouragement, or from punishment to rewards and grades.

And then, there are those who think, that between the first and the second option there is the realistic one. They tend to say that, of course, whenever a link between the learning material and an intrinsic motivation can be established it should be done. But, as most of what teachers are supposed to teach is not very interesting, and as interest cannot be expected to be on time when the subject is on the timetable, there is no way to get around the fact that you have to motivate students by some means if personal motivation is lacking. That's how life is and how it has always been, how could anyone expect schools to work differently? According to this view, self-directed learning is only possible if motivation is present - in the presence of the curriculum. If not, then good teaching skills, classroom leadership and reinforcement of school compliant behavior are inevitable to get the job done. Those teachers like constructivist ideas but rely on Skinnerian principles because human nature cannot be ignored.

So what's my point here? Well, I think we could have the same discussion on any other subjects related to school, like guidance and structure, exposure to challenging questions, etc. Neuroscience alone will not give us the answers that schools need. Anyone, can use oversimplified neurosciencific theories to justify whatever she/he thinks is right in education. Neuroscience alone will not tell us what structure, guidance, learning etc. mean.

There is a risk that popular views on neuroscience serve as arguments to continue the worst of educational practices not necessarily the best ones. I also think, that neuroscientific findings and theories are overgeneralized and in many cases dangerously implanted not only into schools but also into the homes. For those who haven't noticed it yet, we are witnessing a major shift from "pop-behaviorism" as Alfie Kohn calls it, to pop-neuroscience built on an a strong Skinnerian heritage.

But then, should educators forget about neuroscience altogether, if it is not that as relevant to education as some may think? No, not at all. It is important and necessary that teachers and parents are capable of identifying, and arguing, and acting against the so called "neuromyhts" among which you'll find theories like “There is no time to lose as everything important about the brain is decided by the age of three” or “There are critical periods when certain matters must be taught and learnt” etc. For more on this you should read "Dispelling the Neuromyths" in "Understanding the Brain: The Birth of a Learning Science." (http://www.oecd.org/document/60/0,3343,en_2649_35845581_38811388_1_1_1_1,00.html )

It is also important to follow the discoveries of neuroscience so that we can respond critically to an oversimplification of neuroscientific conclusions and their translation into the educational setting. Teachers and parents alike need to have enough background information on the subject so that they may resist those trying to sell them brain feeding technique trainings and tools and brain fixing recipes and remedies.

If you want to know more about the subject consider having a look at the "Views from leading thinkers" on the website "Learning about Learning" http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/learningaboutlearning/aboutlal/biogs/index.asp

Among others I like a lot Sergio Della Sala's (the editor of Mind Myths: Exploring Popular Assumptions About the Mind and Brain) contributions on understanding, neuroscience, mind myths, and intelligence. Follow this link to watch the movies with Della Sala:
http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/learningaboutlearning/aboutlal/biogs/biogsergiodellasala.asp

Teachers should take his advice seriously when he says: "So just by taking a model over simplified may produce disasters in education." or "Teachers should not use neuroscience as a theoretical basis to justify what they do."

Now, does this post mean, that I think that no positive conclusions can be drawn form neuroscience in order to justify innovative school practices? No, this is not my point of view. But if I am critical about brain train tools I must also be careful not to take neuroscience as shortcut to justify what I think are valuable educational concepts.

Title image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NIH_PET.JPG

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sustaining the chain reactions of learning


When I go visiting school classes I usually try to avoid sitting in the back to observe the whole classroom activity. I also avoid to start a discussion with the teachers in front of their pupils. I usually go straight to one desk or group of desks and I ask the students if they don't mind me sitting next to them to observe what they are doing.

There are some reasons for me not sitting in the back of the classroom. First, I think that from a few looks around you get quite quickly a good impression of the soul that inhabits a learning community. There is no need to sit in the back for that long. I also think that if you want to observe everything you risk not seeing anything. To me, this is a typical teacher's problem. Standing up in front, in the back or in the center of the classroom to be in control leaves little room for profound observation or dialogue. Another reason why I try to avoid to observe the whole class, is that most of the time, it makes teachers feel uncomfortable because they see themselves in the focus of the observation.

The main reason to go straight to a desk to observe, talk and take notes, is that it's always a unique chance to gain an insight in at least one child's thinking, working and being.

For example, there is this boy sitting next to me doing math. Sometimes he uses his fingers. The result is always correct, but I can't see how his finger algorithm is related to the result. So I ask him how his strategy works. No answer. - I ask if at the next example he could try to speak while using his fingers to calculate. He calculates, uses his fingers, but again he doesn't say anything. I wait. Finally he says: "I can't in the had, and with fingers and talk." - Isn't this an impressive example how complex simple things can be? How profound a child is capable of self-reflecting and analyzing? How misleading any interpretation of what he's doing, how he may be thinking and why he doesn't respond to my demand could be? And what if his calculation results had been wrong? Would I have persisted as much on trying to understand his way of thinking?

Another example: There's this nine or ten year old girl who tells me how she makes soup for herself and her sister and sometimes cooks for her father when he comes home late after work. She has done a creative work with a tin can and I asked her where she got this can from. She told me that she has brought it from home and that it had contained beans which she doesn't like. So when I ask her what she likes to eat she says that she likes soup and she tells me a lot about her life at home and how much responsibility she already has to take for herself, her sister and her farther. It's the first time we talk to each other. I haven't met her before. I don't have to ask a lot of questions. Finally she tells me that she doesn't like to go to school because of homework which she has difficulties to do alone. I ask myself if teachers know about and take into account the conditions that children live in and if they are aware of the opportunity provided by a tin can to get to know a child.

And then, there's this boy who apparently is not interested in writing but only in playing and drawing. His drawing tells a whole adventure - he explains one object which he can't name and which I can't identify at first. When I finally understand that it's a periscope, I ask him if I should write it down for him. He tells me where I should write it and that I should use blockletters - not this adult handwriting which he can't read. Finally we write names of other things he has drawn. I ask If I may get a copy of it. He rushes to the Xerox and is happy to make a copy for me. Who said that this boy has no interest in writing?

And then there is this boy who wants to be a volunteer fire fighter like all men in his family. He shows me his favorite book about fire fighting and tells me that he has to prepare for a fire fighter exam, which his teacher allows him to do in class. He seems to know everything about fire brigades and fire fighting. Together we compare information about which elements are needed for a fire to start. These elements are grouped in the fire tetrahedron. I never heard about that before. A fire can be extinguished by removing at least one of the elements grouped in the fire tetrahedron, heat, oxygen, ... In our discussions my questions are real questions and his answers are real answers. There's no need for extrinsic motivation strategies to keep his interest alive. He has found something which fascinates and challenges him. My interest is authentic. So is his teacher's. She has set the conditions to make this all possible. She is there, close enough to listen to our conversation but she doesn't interfere. Nothing more is required. The boy doesn't need praise. Anyway he's the expert. Experts don't need praise to keep them going. Once the process of self-determination is ignited the curriculum emerges. The learning process is kept alive as long as all the elements are present. Anything can be connected to the core subject of fire fighting: math, chemistry, history, languages, ...

Some say "You are lucky, you don't have to teach things like grammar and math." They are right, I'm lucky. And I don't have to teach these things, indeed. But do they have as much and as often as they think they should?

Pedagogy starts where instruction ends. The more I observe the more I am convinced that teaching is about sustaining the chain reaction of a child's learning and reflecting which has started long before entering school.

Thank you teachers for leaving your classroom door open and for letting me in.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fire_tetrahedron.svg

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A new way the money goes

When I see the capital that is needed to save the banking sector and the automotive industry, and maybe there will be other sectors, I can't help but asking myself if this money is more real than the one these sectors have produced so far. There must be some endless reservoir somewhere. Maybe politicians have finally managed to find the only endless resource in the Universe before scientist have.

Anyway, as there seems to be no limit regarding the money that states manage and are asked to bring up, the other question that strikes to my mind is, if it's not time to seriously consider the proposition of a "Guaranteed minimum income" (GMI) for every citizen, or as I would prefer to formulate it, for every human being on earth - child or adult.

If you think this is a crazy idea which is not practicable, you probably have have one excuse and one reason for that. The excuse may be that you never have considered the idea - and therefore you have never taken the time to think it over in depth.

Recently I have read an interesting and convincing book by Götz Wolfgang Werner, a quite famous German businessman. The book is called Einkommen für alle. Der dm-Chef über die Machbarkeit des bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 2007, ISBN 978-3-462-03775-3.

If this guy, who has proved many times in his career as a successful business man, to have a profound knowledge on a lot of what has to do with money, is convinced that the GMI is a feasible concept, I think it's worth considering the idea. I invite you to take the time to read about this visionary proposition come back to the negotiation table, when you have made up your mind on the basis of your own arguments and on the basis of arguments that you can find in quite a few sereous sources. So far for the excuse.

Now what about the reason for possibly rejecting the idea? You actually may think that people will never be mature and responsible enough to make a substantial contribution to society if they are not forced to work to earn some money and that this would be the end of society how it works today.

To this I must answer with two questions: Isn't the option to make a substantial contribution to society dependent on decent life conditions? And second, what in the end has been the substantial contribution to society of those who have a major responsibility in probably one of the biggest worldwide economic crisis the world has seen so far?

I don't want to go in a detailed discussion about the success of current economical models, as I don't want to speak to much about the necessity to save automotive industry in order to save jobs of ordinary employees or corporate jet users, when at least one of the main reasons for the decline of this industry, besides mismanagement, is that people have stopped considering buying cars as one of their priorities for the moment.

What I'm mostly interested in is what the effect on education would be of such a measure like providing every person on earth with a basic income that would be high enough to live decently and safely.

What would education be like if teachers and parents would not feel obliged to tell their students and children "If you don't learn you won't get a job, and you'll suffer all the consequences of being unemployed; no house, not enough food, no decent living for your children, no whatever you can think of that you only get if you got a job and enough money?"
What would the messages to the coming generation be like if there were no such threats like : "If you have no job, you will be forced to live in the street, to steel, to beg or at least you will always be dependent on someone else to survive?"

Maybe you would ask children more questions like: "What would you like to do in your life? What occupation would you find challenging?" Whatever their answer would be, you could reply: "Fine, if that's your life project, wouldn't it be great to find out what could be important to know if you want to do that?"

I'm sure there would still be people wanting to be astrophysicists, politicians, teachers, farmers or car builders. I can also imagine that there would be people doing nothing or doing the wrong things - as many do today - paid or not. We would also have to think of what incentives could motivate people to collect our garbage.

But what I am sure of, is, that we would develop a different viewpoint on what is important and interesting in life and what education is for. At least we could ask everyone what her/his life project is, without being sarcastic.

image source:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marketmakers.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jakarta_slumlife43.JPG

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thinking with Charles Darwin

On February 12th we are going to celebrate (some would probably prefer to say "deplore") Charles Darwin's 200s birthday and on November 24th 2009 the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" - in short called The Origin of Species. Another milestone of his work is the book "The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex" which he published in 1871.

Although many other scientists have worked on evolutionary theories, Darwin is the one who built his on the principles of mutation, variation and natural selection and the common descent of living organisms. The convergence of Charles Darwin's theory, with Mendel's findings on heredity, with the discovery of the DNA and it's role in heredity, but also with Wegener's theory of the continental drift and with many other theories have conducted to our modern view on the origine and the development of the living organisms, the face of the Earth and the Universe.

Ok, this is all stuff that you can read up in most science books and on the Internet. But there are two reasons why I think that it is important to bring this up on my blog on educational matters.
First, teachers are those who have to deal with the conflict between scientific findings and beliefs. Second, teachers have to encourage the development of critical thinking and scientific thinking - at least that's my point of view.

Regarding the first issue, there is a serious risk that science is not taught as it should because,"Teachers hesitate to offend to religious beliefs of their pupils even when these directly contradict scientific fact." as Richard Dawkins puts its. (For more information see: "The Genius of Charles Darwin" Richard Dawkins; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfAS2kBJDBw ; in 10 episodes.)

To get a feeling of how serious this problem is taken you should read the report "The dangers of creationism in education" by the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Council of Europe published June 8th 2007 (Doc. 11297). http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/workingdocs/doc07/edoc11297.htm

But there's the other issue. There is a risk that science is not taught as it should be, because schools continue to rely on a concept of transmission of knowledge which has much more in common with indoctrination and brainwashing than with teaching or with scientific thinking. I would even go so far as to say that this is not a risk but a fact in most classrooms.

To open a science book, to paraphrase the content of a chapter on evolution for example and to impose on the students that they memorize and recite the theories that have been presented has nothing - nothing at all - to do with anything that comes close to scientific thinking. Such a practice fosters belief, not very different from religious belief, but not thinking.

I see the same risk when students are asked to choose a "science" subject, to gather information on the Internet and to translate them "into their own words", during a few so called "project work" lessons. Even if this maybe more motivating and even challenging than to follow chalk-and-talk lessons, this isn't sufficient to produce thinking young people either. In my view this approach mainly produces superficial and fragmented knowledge and seldom helps students develop a transferable critical attitude, particularly if gathering and assembling of information is a substitute for discussion, negotiation of concepts, formulation of questions and hypothesis, reconstruction of scientific interpretations, justification of choices, evaluation of different viewpoints and analysis of their dependency on the sociocultural context in a specific period in history etc. (see also http://www.criticalthinking.org)

What's the use of such teaching if in the end, most of what is left of it are some simplistic beliefs (why should I call them concepts?) of how things work, were it mathematics, language, learning, intelligence or evolution.

Am I asking to much from school? I don't think so. I am asking less but more in depth work, much more time spent on one project and a lot of socratic dialogue. If you are of those who persist on thinking that past teaching methods were useful to develop scientific and critical thinking, I suggest that you design a test like the ones that have been developed for the PISA survey, but for adults - parents, teachers, whoever you want. You will see right away what I mean - as sure as death and taxes - and you will acknowledge that a lot of teaching has been, continues to be and will be for long nothing but a big waste of time.

But, we started with Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory.
How does it work again? ……………………………………………………? Who cares?
If it's important, and if I need it, I'll find it easily on wikipedia.org or in some other bible.
And if you give me some time, I'll put it in my own words if you prefer.
But there's this question that I can't get out of my mind:
Do I believe what I read or do I understand what I read?
Let's see if I can find the answer to this where I found the other one.
If not, maybe it's not a good question after all.

image sources:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darwin_ape.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darwin_tree.png

Thursday, January 8, 2009

200th birthday of Louis Braille, January 4, 2009

Louis Braille's celebration day reminds me of the fact that it is not the child's disability that prevents her/his inclusion into mainstream schools but the school's disability to include children that do not fit into the norm. (Besides, being in the same building is not a sufficient condition for talking about integration or inclusion.)

Reading about Braille I also remembered how impressed I was as a child by the movie about Helen Keller and her tutor Anne Sullivan who taught her to communicate using a manual alphabet.

One thing that came to my mind, when I searched the net to find information about Louis Braille and his invention of the tactile reading system called braille, is that - as I can't read braille, not even identify one single word with my fingertips - I sure must have disability because I don't have this ability.

"The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of seeing people towards them."
"The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but has no vision."
Helen Keller

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Andragogy and Pedagogy, what's the Difference?

Recently I came across the term Andragogy which was used by Alexander Kapp in 1833 and which was adopted by Malcolm Knowles to designate "the art and science of teaching adults". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedagogy).
On most websites dealing with andragogy, I found that it should be distinguished from pedagogy, which relates to teaching children. The authors generally state that andragogy, in opposition to pedagogy, builds upon a different (!?) set of assumptions (four or five) about learning.

I must say, that I was astonished when I read what these assumptions are, and I thought, well, if, in the view of these authors, these assumptions differ from those of pedagogy, I wonder what strange concept of pedagogy these authors must have. And, I also wonder what concept of children, childhood and children's learning they must have. Below, I've quoted from five different websites. See for yourself, and try to find for each statement an opposite view that you would associate with pedagogy - meaning the art and science of teaching children. I just couldn't find any.

I don't question the rightness and the usefulness of those statements in general, but I question that there exists a concept of pedagogy that builds on the opposite assumptions, even if sometimes realities of teaching may suggest that there is one. At least, in my personal view, pedagogy and andragogy are not different. To state that there is a difference, is also to state that meaningfulness of learning applies to adults and not to children - which is absurd - nothing more nothing less.

From http://tip.psychology.org/knowles.html :
"(…) Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning: (1) Adults need to know why they need to learn something (2) Adults need to learn experientially, (3) Adults approach learning as problem-solving, and (4) Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value. (…)"

From http://agelesslearner.com/intros/andragogy.html :
"(…) The andragogic model asserts that five issues be considered and addressed in formal learning. They include (1) letting learners know why something is important to learn, (2) showing learners how to direct themselves through information, and (3) relating the topic to the learners' experiences. In addition, (4) people will not learn until they are ready and motivated to learn. Often this (5) requires helping them overcome inhibitions, behaviors, and beliefs about learning. (…)"

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andragogy :
"(…) Knowles' theory can be stated as four simple postulates: 1. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept and Motivation to learn). 2. Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities (Experience). 3. Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life (Readiness to learn). 4. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation to learning). (…)"

From http://www.infed.org/lifelonglearning/b-andra.htm :
"(…) 1. Self-concept: As a person matures his self concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being 2. Experience: As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning. 3. Readiness to learn. As a person matures his readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles. 4. Orientation to learning. As a person matures his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centredness. 5. Motivation to learn: As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal (Knowles 1984:12). (…)"

From http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2008/10/The-Institutional-Path-for-Change-in-This-Age-Andragogy-not-Pedagogy.aspx :
"(…) 1. Letting learners know why something is important to learn 2. Showing learners how to direct themselves through information 3. Relating the topic to the learners' experiences 4. People will not learn until they are ready and motivated to learn 5. Requires helping them overcome inhibitions, behaviors, and beliefs about learning (…)"

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

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