Writing is thinking. Therefore, I am writing so that I might learn more about what I am thinking. On today and tomorrow, I am attending, “paneling,” participating in, and facilitating at The Martin Institute’s 2012 Summer Conference. On Thursday morning, I am so very privileged to serve on a panel with featured speakers John Hunter (@worldpeacemovie) and Dr. Sande Dawes (not sure of a Twitter handle), and we have been asked to consider the following questions:
- What are your thoughts and reflections from Day 1?
- What is understanding and how does it develop?
- How can you best inspire and nurture creative thinking and problem solving in your students and yourself?
- If teachers, students and parents are generally satisfied with their schools, why should their schools consider moving in new directions?
- What are some practices that you’ve seen for implementing 21st century skills in the classroom?
- How can you foster a school culture that promotes this kind of learning?
- If we are serious about excellence in our classrooms/schools then what questions should we be asking?
To be honest, I am feeling a bit guilty for writing just now. I am stealing 30 minutes to journal instead of attending Session #4, and I know I am missing some superb leading and thinking from conference presenters and attendees. Yet, learning and understanding involves a fair amount of quiet, processing time for me. So, I had to steal away for some deliberately quiet processing. Of course, now I am wondering if we would allow our students to do such in schools. Don’t they feel overwhelmed sometimes by the sheer volume of teaching, learning, and information? Can such quiet, reflective time be scheduled and scripted, or is it more valuable to choose to take this time, as I am doing now? For if we are trying to build understanding, there are certainly steps, stages, and phases to such a construction process, and time to reconsider the blueprints seems fundamental and paramount. But I digress, a bit. Tis okay…I am “just journaling.”
As I began my Wednesday at #MICON12, I watched John Hunter’s World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements (http://www.worldpeacegame.org/). This movie by Chris Farina, and John Hunter’s related TED talk, are amazing. The Martin Institute is doing phenomenal work promoting and igniting this teaching, learning, and storytelling.
This morning marked my tenth viewing of this incredible film. Each time I watch, I learn something new, and I am always spurred to think deeply about the nature of learning and preparing citizens for life in this century. And this viewing included a new cut of the film – more to take in and learn. As I watched the film and followed the tweets (I made a Storify of some of the most profound), I continued to be deeply moved by the blurring of school and life that John Hunter facilitates. If you read this blog, then you probably know that I am a huge fan of Kiran Bir Sethi’s work at Riverside School and her TED talk “Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge.” Like Kiran, Hunter believes that school is not just preparation for real life…school IS real life. Students can make an impact NOW on the positive changes that we need in our world. For me, so many of my responses to the questions posed above are fused and webbed and linked together by this fact and approach to “the classroom.”
Does “school” tend to look like real life? Well, it should – if we really hope to prepare students to serve and lead in a changing world.
Oh well, my 30 minutes are up. I didn’t even scratch the surface…very much. But I have some beginnings of a scratch. More later.
Thinking is iterative and prototypical, so I know that my thinking will change as I continue to interact – face-to-face and virtually – with the amazing people at The Martin Institute 2012 Summer Conference.
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