Interesting research on brain activity suggests that students’ brains will synchronize when they’re all paying attention together…. and that students will be more “in tune” with one another based on some contributing factors.
One factor noted in the article is student personality – the more you like being part of a group, the more you will think like the group. Double-edged sword, there. (So “groupthink” really is a neurological thing.)
Second factor is face time: students who interacted with another classmate before the learning session began were more in sync during class.
My takeaways: the culture of the learning community is really important. A harmonious classroom encourages joint attention. Allowing students their between-class minutes for socializing without begrudging them that time may pay off in better attention (though with teens, I’ve found that interpersonal stress destroys attention).
A question: As teachers, when and how should we use brain-sync to enhance learning, and when might it become a liability?
A good piece by John Warner about methods he uses to give students a place and time within his classroom to air their issues with the course, the process, the assignments, even the grading structure. When students have a say in the process, they are much more invested.
More importantly, this kind of teacher-student dialogue builds trust if the teacher is willing to listen and change. That takes humility – always a good trait.
The Airing of the Grievances (Inside Higher Ed)
Can you use engineering and hands-on prototyping to teach English literature?
Yes. Yes you can. And it’s brilliant:
It may be that some people inside higher education think students aren’t ready for college because they don’t know what they should know. Or students don’t come with the abilities we think they should already have. Or they don’t know how to learn. Or they can’t think critically. Or they don’t know correct grammar. Or they don’t know how to manage their time. All that may be true, but I believe none of it is going to be repaired if we don’t help them learn how to stop fearing questions, themselves and others.
None of our concerns about student readiness for college are ever going to be resolved if we don’t help students learn how to stop fearing questions, themselves and others, writes Laurence Musgrove.
The most helpful concept I’ve discovered in her teachings is “bodhichitta,” the ongoing consciousness of those who have developed the fearlessness necessary to extend compassion to one’s self so that it might be extended to others.
Chodron defines bodhichitta as the ready mind and compassionate heart capable of overcoming the fears we feel toward ourselves and others that often result in aggression, prejudice, despair and even indifference. According to her, those who dedicate themselves to training in bodhichitta are called “bodhisattvas or warriors — not warriors who kill and harm but warriors of nonaggression who hear the cries of the world. These are men and women who are willing to train in the middle of the fire. Training in the middle of the fire can mean that warrior-bodhisattvas enter challenging situations in order to alleviate suffering. It also refers to their willingness to cut through personal reactivity and self-deception, to their dedication to uncovering the basic energy of bodhichitta.”
I think she’s diagnosing the wrong cause for this problem, but the description of the mess is definitely worth reading.
It feels like all of the rules set up to educate exceptional students (who are not severely restricted from a “typical” learning environment) are an attempt to solve problem by throwing rules at it. In my experience, what works in the classroom is the caring relationship of a teacher to the student in his/her care and the family of that student. To do that relationship well, teachers must be trained and they must have a small enough class size to invest the time necessary. And schools need to give those teaching professionals the latitude to structure their classrooms and lessons in the way that best fits the particular students in their care.
Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, are one of the greatest pitfalls of the country’s school system.
An excellent read about the question of how failure can motivate a student – or derail her. It’s easy to blame helicopter parenting for today’s risk-adverse, success-obsessed students. But the story is more complex that that…
Today’s Fail-Safe Students – Students – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
“These students are going to live through the second digital revolution, and they are not ready for it,” says Mr. Levine. “This is a high-risk world. The notion of building in opportunities for failure is really important.” If young people don’t experience meaningful failure in school or college, they’re bound to face it in adulthood, where it could paralyze or derail them.