1. A Twitter Chat: How Technology Can Help Bridge the Skills Gap
From GigaOm: Educators and technologists debate how new and emerging technologies and models of education can prepare students for professional life in the 21st century.
2. Why Can Some Kids Handle the Pressue While Others Fall Apart
From NYTimes: By the authors of NurtureShock and one of the Times’s most emailed posts in the last week, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman investigate brain research on the effects of good and bad stress, and the role our genes (and a particular enzyme) play in how we handle competition and anxiety in daily life.
3. The Crucial Role of Recess in Schools
From the American Association of Pediatrics’s Council on School Health: Another study that emphasizes the importance of recess to healthy physical, intellectual, and social-emotional growth in children.
4. Small Kids, Big Words: Research-based strategies for building vocabulary from preK to Grade 3
From the Harvard Education Letter: Studies show the importance of using “big words” that promote conceptual understanding in the early childhood years.
5. Kids Haven’t Changed; Kindergarten Has
From the Harvard Education Letter: New research shows a return to more play and social-emotional learning, rather than the increase in academic learning as evident in kindergarten and first grade classrooms across the nation.
6. “Grit” and the New Character Education
From the Harvard Education Letter: A continuing look at grit, persistence and how these performance traits, versus moral qualities, could help with student learning.
7. Management is (Still) Not Leadership
From the Harvard Business Review Blog: The difference between leading and managing, and the distinct significance of each in any institution.
8. TED Talk: Sarah Jane-Blakemore on the Mysterious Workings of the Adolescent Brain
“Leaders can let you fail without letting you be a failure.”
Is this also a quality of great teaching? What about parenting?
I had an interesting conversation yesterday with Elizabeth, our Assistant Head of Lower School and School Librarian. Elizabeth is an avid reader and epitomizes what it means to be a lifelong learner. She’s always open to new ideas and perspectives and reads widely and indiscriminately to inform herself and our community.
We talked about a TEDx video we had seen recently by Stanford Professor Paulo Blikstein, in which he makes the claim that we don’t want to give up any of the previous 20th century skills. He continues that we want to teach “fractions and basic arithmetic” but we also want to teach new, more advanced things. Professor Blikstein asks, “We need to make big changes not just in the means of education but also in content… What are we prepared to give up?”
We had both questioned in separate viewings of the video if he’s advocating for significant curtailing, if not deleting entirely, any part of the curriculum that could be answered instantly by technology. We asked an even more radical question:
Can we really just get rid of basic arithmetic in schools?
In response to her first question, I believe that school leaders and teachers should discuss these questions within their individual contexts. Institutional reflection is necessary before schools make any decisions about their curricula, especially about what to add, delete, or modify. Will Richardson puts it differently when he says that “we have to stop asking questions in classrooms that students can now answer with their phones (state capitals anyone?).” Maybe getting rid of basic arithmetic is not the answer. After reading Will’s post, I believe the more relevant question to ask is, how are students going to use basic arithmetic? Should assessments evaluate more than simple operations and require students to communicate meaning through real-world problems and application?
What do you think? Does your school engage your teachers in such reflection? Would you get rid of basic arithmetic or anything similar that can be looked up or done by a machine?