Notes Instead of Thoughts – From 3 Rules to Spark Learning

When talking about Digital Portfolios, both Dr. Alec Couros and George Couros talk about the place where you do your messy work and then the place where you put your best work.  Below is some of my messy work.

Sometimes you know you just need to keep things around to refer to and to think about.  I hope others will read and think about this too.

While flying this morning, I watched a 6 minute TED Talk from 2013 called 3 Rules to Spark Learning by Ramsey Musallam.

Right now, one of my personal inquiry questions is, how can we convince parents and our communities that the status quo in public education is a loser (to quote Michael Fullan)?”

How do we engage in questioning the current system of assigning two-digit numbers to our children, sorting them top to bottom?

How do we focus on creating cultures of learning, not cultures of schooling and filtering?

Dean Shareski responded here that we need talking points.  We need a clear message.  I am looking for those messages that will resonate with the public.  We need messages that will resonate more strongly than a Fraser Report or a PISA ranking.

Ramsey Musallam shows me that we can have powerful messages in 6 minutes.  His talk is engaging and entertaining and worth watching.

There were a few points that resonated with me.  I am simply note taking here, and sharing the notes, so that I am not alone in thinking further about these rich statements.

“Questions and curiosity are magnets that draw us toward our teachers, and they transcend all technology and buzzwords in education.”

Our greatest tool as teachers is our students’ questions.

Lectures can be dehumanizing chatter, flipped or not.

If we have the guts to confuse and perplex our students, then we can tailor robust and informed methods of blended instruction. (Just “blended learning” on its own isn’t engaging – it still needs inquiry, questions, trial and error, investigation)

“Snap me out of pseudo-teaching.”

“Students’ questions are the seeds of real learning, not some scripted curriculum that offers tidbits of random information.”

At this point I am reminded of the frustrations over the past two years in Canada, when it seemed impossible to get anyone to ask questions about the destruction of scientific data and libraries, the closing of top-notch research facilities like the Experimental Lakes Area, and the removal of environmental protection for our waterways.  If we want engaged citizens, we need to embrace the importance of asking questions.

Three rules for lesson planning:

  1.  Curiosity comes first.  Questions can be windows into great instruction, but not the other way around.
  2. Embrace the mess.  Learning is ugly
  3. Practice reflection.  What we do is important.  It deserves our care.  It also deserves our improvement.

Can we practice as though we are surgeons saving lives? Our students are worth it, and every student is different.

Four-year-olds ask why about everything.  How will their future teachers embrace and grow this?

Dropping out of school comes in many different forms.  

Students do not have to be out of the room to be checked out.

Graduation rates are a low bar, a false measurement, because there is no evidence of any engagement in learning.  Students who hate school and students who have learned to hate learning can walk across a stage.  

We need a different measurement of our success as a system.

As educators, we need to rethink our roles.  We are not just disseminators of content, but cultivators of curiosity.


Three Rules to Spark Learning

2 thoughts on “Notes Instead of Thoughts – From 3 Rules to Spark Learning

  1. Interesting what you have shared here but I am confused on this point:

    “Lectures can be dehumanizing chatter, flipped or not.”

    Most of your post is based on you watching a lecture. What is important here is that you are making connections for your own learning. We don’t necessarily do that in schools. We lecture to give information but do not allow the time for learners to process and make their own connections where the most powerful learning happens. As an adult, you have made that a priority in this post. Do we create the spaces where students can do this?

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the post, George.

    When I wrote that quote from the talk, I paused as well. I think the key is “can be”. We have all been to some amazing lectures, and some brutal ones.

    I am no expert in the process of learning, but I do know that those personal connections are critical, and I think a lot of them happen when we are not in formal learning situations. How many of those connections happen when kids are outside playing after school? I know most of my connections come while out walking or running, or sitting on a plane. They don’t usually happen at the time I listen to the lecture.

    I think we have to be careful about “giving time” specifically for making connections. I have been in learning situations where we were “given time” but you can’t force the connections. Certainly we can seed them by asking questions and encouraging the asking of questions, but sometimes the connections don’t happen right away.

    You get it though. Learning is deeply personal and different for everyone. What is most important is that every child is learning, and nobody is stuck in one place. Cultivating curiosity may be one of the keys to ensure this is happening.

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