Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Additional Assignment 2

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

Sugata Mitra with the children he taught

     First of all, I see the correlation between areas with educationally unsuccessful schools and teachers who refuse to work there.  Teachers refuse to work in places in which they are needed most.  What I don't see, is the reason for this.  Don't teachers become teachers in order to make a difference?  So why would you actively seek out jobs at schools who have an ample amount of good teachers and impressive schools?  Obviously those schools are on their way to improving scores and more importantly, education, without the help of you.  My idea of making a difference is actually making a difference, not simply being acknowledged because my school does well.   So when that day finally comes, when I start applying for jobs, I am going to actively seek out lower income schools, with low scores, and students that don't seem to care.  Because it is there where I can make a difference.  Maybe the problem is that the teachers don't care, so it is the responsibility of the new teachers to breathe life into the staff, and let them know that they can make a difference, that they don't need to give up. Maybe the students don't have enough of a support system at home, which only means that teachers need to (professionally) fill that void, and be the encouragement that all students need in order to succeed.  You might say I've watched Freedom Writers one too many times, but I guess I'll find out on my own, if my theories prove to be true.
     "If children have interest, then education happens".  Which is exactly why the term "busy work" should be banned from every classroom in the world.  Busy work is for teachers who have given up.  For teachers who no longer have the drive to actually do their job.  When you approach education like it is exciting, captivating, and life-changing, then so will your students.  Granted when you are too enthusiastic, some students will write you off as the loon.  But there will always be students there just because they are forced to be there, but that is besides the point.  The point is that if you are interested in the subject, then maybe, just maybe your enthusiasm will rub off on them.  This goes hand in hand with the idea of "The Grandmother", "The Encourager", or my personal favorite, "The Cheerleader".  Showing students that you are amazed by how much they know, and proud of everything they do, and just cheering them on in everything that they do-can do wonders.  I have always hated English with a passion, but my 9th grade English teacher (probably the best teacher ever) made me love English.  She was very enthusiastic, and made every student believe that they could succeed.  Which is why I will always believe that this is the  best approach to teaching.
     So, can students teach themselves if motivated?  Yes.  Can anyone who is not motivated to learn, learn? Yes.  But imagine how much more they will learn with the teacher there cheering them on, guiding them, while still giving them enough freedom to learn on their on.  What conditions are necessary for kids to teach themselves? The only NECESSARY conditions are the tools needed to learn.  Like in the video, the only thing that was needed was a computer with online capabilities.  Those students did not feel like they were learning.  They were having fun.  They were exploring.  Much like in Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, these students were experiencing a head-fake.  They thought they were just having fun, learning was what they actually achieved.  What roles do computers and internet access play in the process?  Well, just let me ask you this question.  As much as everyone says they love to read, how many average school-aged children are going to pick up a book, just for the fun of it? A few. How many are going to be intrigued by the capabilities of a computer? By the internet? Well let's just say a few more.  Now with its intrigue set aside, the mere possibilities of the internet outweigh the capabilities of a book.  This is a fact that I shouldn't have to argue.  Now that the student has free reign to the internet, imagine what will happen when the students are faced with a problem, a question?  This is just that guiding light that will help them get from point A to point B.  Now once they get to point B the student should be allowed to keep exploring.  Explore, never research.  Entertainment, never assignment.  How do you motivate someone to learn?  I don't mean to harp on this, but motivation is all in the teacher's approach, the teacher's attitude.  The teacher should approach anything as if it is an activity rather than an assignment.  In most cases the teacher should be the cheerleader, but I also believe it is the teacher's job to adjust to each and every student accordingly.  Some students will perceive the exuberant "cheerleader" as annoying.  My approach to these students would be the "I bet you can't".  I do not think that this approach would work with the majority of students, but I believe it would do wonders for the rest.  Anytime I was told I did not have the ability to achieve something, I wanted to work that much harder, just to prove that I could.  And in the process I learned.  My "stubborness" was my motivation, I just accidentally learned on the path to proving myself worthy. When do I teach myself? I teach myself when I am interested.  If I am interested in a subject I will google it for hours.  If you put a workbook in front of me, then I am going to throw it to the side until I am forced to do it.   
     So I might have gotten off on my motivation soap box but basically, technology's capabilities are endless.  Pair these capabilities with motivation and the possibilities are endless.  

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