Tuesday, August 18, 2009

EMPOWER Learners, despite the tests

David Warlick over at 2 Cents always has stimulating discussions. Someday I hope to go to a session where he presents. At least I should have access to him since I, too, live in NC! In the meantime, I must read his blog which is always informative. Today he asks, as he has in many of his presentations,

What kind of questions will we ask on our tests, when our students walk into the classroom with Google in their pockets?

He states the example of

calculators — how, for years, we resisted the new devices because it wasn’t math. It didn’t look like the math instruction we traditionally provided, and so we almost demonized the things. But now that calculators have become a critical part of many mathematics classes, have they changed the questions we ask? Have they changed the problems we ask our students to solve? Has it changed the nature of math instruction?

The answer, of course, is, “Yes!” Calculators empower learners to work numbers to an end. They force students to transcend paper and pencil, to truly utilize the language of numbers to solve problems, answer questions, accomplish goals — to learn new things. I maintain that we should expect learning in the classroom to be the same as learning in the “real world” — that it is about ubiquitous access to the global flow of information and the tools that empower us to work that information.

So, we should be looking for tools and pedagogy that empower learning.

David says:

It’s new questions that will define our future. Today, we need graduates who can invent answers to the “new questions.”

[This quote immediately above is purely the way David Warlick wrote it! I didn’t mess with it at all!]

Teachers need to realize there is a reason that students are there in their classrooms; it is not just to pass a test.

The whole purpose, originally, of education was/is to learn so we can use that information for our our enlightenment and betterment.

Do you teach students for their enlightenment and betterment? How do you do it? What are your strategies, tools, and pedagogy?

Can you do it, in spite of the tests?

[As always, MOSTLY (see exception mentioned above) in my author quotes, the underlines, color changes, and bold type is mine, not the author’s. I do this so often, I should probably put a disclaimer to this effect at the bottom of every blog!]

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