Teaching students not to fear

Excellent read:

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.

Source: The importance of teaching students not to fear (essay)

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.”

(emphasis mine)

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Why Are IEPs So Expensive and Frustrating for Schools and Special Education Students and Their Parents? – The Atlantic

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.

Source: Why Are IEPs So Expensive and Frustrating for Schools and Special Education Students and Their Parents? – The Atlantic

The stages of tech integration into education

Fantastic blog post by John Spencer outlining the waypoints along the journey of technological implementation in the classroom.

This helps teachers see where they are in the journey and acknowledge the particular struggles of that stage. Tech integration usually moves teachers from excitement and hope into frustration and disillusionment – no technology is a magic bullet for the classroom.

I always appreciate John’s posts; this is certainly one of his most helpful.

Eight Stages in the Teacher Technology Journey (John Spencer)

Meaningful Work, in the classroom and beyond

Meaningful work is an idea valuable to the classroom as well as to business. It’s getting more attention in the business world as Millennials enter the work force demanding jobs they want to do even at entry level, and as more mature workers realize the paycheck isn’t the bottom line value if the work itself is dull and uninspiring.

In the classroom, teachers are often working under tightly prescribed guidelines for outcomes and goals. Finding a way to make the classroom tasks meaningful in some situations can be a challenge.

For years I taught Latin to middle and high schoolers who were less than thrilled about the course. (Often it was required.) I could stand on my head or do a song-n-dance everyday to make it “fun,” but really, the hard work of learning a language (especially one with as many technical details to master as Latin) requires —you guessed it— hard work.

This good post at Buffer offers a few ways that individuals can take charge of whether their own work is meaningful. Teachers can adapt these strategies for the classroom and also call learners to mindfulness about their work. We can teach kids how to find meaning in the mundane — because even the best, most meaningful careers include quite a bit of the mundane.

Meaningful work for everyone: the 3 conditions that lead to your best work (Buffer)

Link: The Fundamental Way That Universities Are an Illusion – The New York Times

Here’s a provocative essay on the illusion that is the modern university.

Kevin Carey suggests that universities cannot guarantee overall excellence in their academic programs because professors are more like independent contractors than anything else. Academic freedom plays out as “you can’t tell me what to do.” So higher ed pedagogy is much harder to correct than K-12 pedagogy (which I would argue is making greater strides toward excellence, despite the destructive effects of the assessment craze).

An interesting short read.

When college leaders talk about academic standards, they often mean admissions standards, not standards for what happens in classrooms themselves.

via The Fundamental Way That Universities Are an Illusion – The New York Times.

The Liberal Arts Are Dead — The Synapse — Medium

The Liberal Arts Are Dead — The Synapse — Medium.

Are they?

Great explanation of the difficulties facing colleges in the wake of massive shifts to the “delivery model” for education. Yet is there a core human quality that drives us back to liberal arts? Yes, I think so.

The real question is, How do we ‘fight for’ that benefit for all students, when by definition a liberal arts education has always been time-intensive and expensive, and available really to only the privileged few?

via The Liberal Arts Are Dead — The Synapse — Medium.

Idea: Teachers Using Trello: How To Foster Genius In The Classroom | Trello Blog

There are so many great tech tools out there today! Here’s an example of how one 5th grade teacher is using a simple project management tool (Trello) to teach his students how to organize problem-based approaches to student-driven learning.

What I love about this:

  • Trello is free and genuinely easy to use
  • Even today’s highly structured classrooms hounded by CC assessments can carve out an hour a week for student-centered and -directed learning, and it’s worth it to do that
  • Students can and should learn how to develop their own  “pretty hard and tough” questions to drive their own inquiry during the school week – it’s a vital skill.
  • Being able to see what everyone else is working on benefits the entire class and drives students’ motivation

Good ideas here. Check it out.

via Teachers Using Trello: How To Foster Genius In The Classroom | Trello Blog.