Friday, October 12, 2012

MP's "Stop Stealing Dreams" reflection

Three Legacies of Horace Mann # 9.
The purpose of public education when created by Horace Mann was to involve the common man and raise the standards of the culture. His curriculum was embedded in the value of empowering individuals to do something impactful for the greater good. He is quoted, "be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." Those are powerful words, and certainly very significant when considering Mann's intended purpose of public education. I truly believe it is the mission of most schools and teachers to have this kind of significant impact on our students. We want to encourage our students to wake up every morning with their own mission to do something significant for others and perhaps mankind as a whole. This is what we "want" to do, but is this what we are doing? Is pushing our students to study, study, study to earn a "5" on their AP exam really helping them win a victory for humanity? As our schools have become increasingly dependent on test data as a measure of student growth and achievement, are we pulling away from the embedded purpose of public education? When do we teach character development? How do we really teach our students to become effective thinkers and productive members of a democratic society? Are we just encouraging students to dive into their own bubbles to study, study, study to earn that "5" which shows how much knowledge they were able to cram into their heads? To ensure our students will leave our classrooms ashamed to die until they have won some victory for humanity, I believe it is our responsibility as educators to bridge the large gap created as educational policy encourages more and more high stakes testing.

Dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy #19
Just reading the words "destroying dreams," makes me cringe. Our world and all of its creations would not exist without the ideas and innovations that were developed from dreams. To suggest that schools are removing the ability of individuals to dream is a scary notion. Without the proper support, dreams are destroyed well before they are ever created. Individuals need the foundation on which dreams are built, which come largely from family and teachers. By teaching students responsibity both for their actions AND their learning, the framework by which dreams develop is created. It's our jobs as educators to teach our students how to think. Students need to learn not just how to answer questions, but how to ask questions about answers and questions. It's through these questions that the spark necessary to ignite dreams and make those dreams a reality can happen. Students need to learn how to be responsive, and how to invite failure into their lives. Failure is an inevitable part to achieiving the goals that arise from any dream. To avoid "destroying dreams," it's necessary that students know how to be reflective and responsive when failure marks its way in the pathway of their dreams. In doing so, instead of extinguishing dreams failure may ignite dreams.

And yet we isolate students instead of connecting them #23
Most educators I speak with agree that we need to encourage are students to be more connected. The Internet is a powerful, amazing source of information that enables minds to spend less wasteful time memorizing facts and more meaningful time innovating. Our biggest concern is who are students will be coming across when they are connected. In attempt to protect our students, we discourage the use of social media in the classroom, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We threaten to take away their devices when we catch them breaking these rules as an attempt to regulate their use. But, are we moving backwards in our connected world in doing so? Should we be encouraging our students to work collectively using these types of social media? How can be protect our students from things like cyber bullying , and who is to be held accountable if this kind of activity occurs during our class time or for a class assignment? If we want are students to be connected and gain their fullest learning potential from those connected experiences, is regulation obsolete? It has been proven again and again in the science community, through medical practices, in the field of education, etc. that working in isolation stifles growth. The real world is collaborative, so we should be encouraging collaboration in the classroom. So, the question is, how do we effectively promote student learning in this vast Internet age of unregulated connections?

1 comment:

  1. I haven't figured out just how well social media "connects" anyone. If my students can't communicate with a friend ("friend"? They have warped the meaning of the word in the modern social media) using their thumbs, they can't communicate. No, I'm not talking about throwing all computers in the ocean but in the labs you design for your students, in the various groups they have to perform in to complete assignments, in your work with NHS, you've helped your students win plenty of victories for humanity.