17 March 2015

Items to Share: 15 March 2015

Education Focus
  • Becoming a happier teacher 'I’ve just finished reading behaviour and public policy expert Paul Dolan’s marvellous Happiness by Design. Originally it shone out invitingly from the shelves of Waterstones, but I didn’t take the bait until Mark Healy recently recommended it in this blogpost. I have often thought that we teachers are very adept at making ourselves needlessly unhappy – at work and in life generally – and this book has helped me to conceptualise this and find some potential solutions. For me, at least.'
  • And if I told you I don't believe in lesson plans? 'Lesson plans – they’re a bit of a nonsense. Don’t you think? In fact, I’ll go further. Lesson plans hold kids back and encourage teachers to focus on all the wrong things. [...] So does that mean I just roll up and freewheel my way through lessons? Not really. But it does mean I work according to a set of principles that allow me to teach, largely, on autopilot. Teach on autopilot? That sounds strangely complacent! Not really. I keep to my key principles. My lessons are uncluttered. I have the flexibility to tweak lessons on the hoof.'
  • Teachers, not Nobel laureates, are the experts in how to teach science | Science | The Guardian '[Sir Paul] Nurse [President of the Royal Society] writes “Finding things out for yourself is at the very heart of science”. As a science teacher, it is statements like this that lead me worry that Nurse, and others like him in the “science community”, have at best a superficial, and at worst a grossly inaccurate, idea about science education. [...] Students very rarely “find things out” for themselves in their school science lessons. Practical work is not some magical process whereby scientific knowledge is painlessly implanted into the minds of young people as they stir spatulas of sugar into hot water, or hang weights from a spring. [...] It sometimes seems that everyone who’s ever set foot in a school reckons they are an expert in how I ought to do my job. But I’d expect better from scientists who are supposed to rely on evidence and data.'
  • Why ‘Everybody got it?’ is functionally rhetorical - Teach Like a Champion '[T]he way we often ask these questions—with a wait time of a fraction of a second; a willingness to accept silent assent without testing; a look of relief, even, when we get silent assent because we really just want the green light to move on—intimates very clearly that we’re not expecting a response. Students know not to speak up. If they do, our response can also send the message that they weren’t really supposed to answer.'
  • The revolution that’s changing the way your child is taught | Ian Leslie | Education | The Guardian 'The best teachers do not necessarily understand how teaching works, because their own technique is invisible to them; sports psychologists call this “expert-induced amnesia”. When the Los Angeles Times asked some of the teachers who topped their list what made them so effective, one replied that great teachers simply love their students and love their job: “You can’t bottle that, and you can’t teach it.” [...] Doug Lemov is on a mission to prove that talented teacher wrong.
  • Introducing… The Echo Chamber Uncut | Scenes From The Battleground  'I have set up a new website, Echo Chamber Uncut. This is a companion site to The Echo Chamber where my team of volunteers and I have been blogging links to the best blogposts we could find. [...] The Uncut site is different in that [...] it is intended to reblog everything from the UK education blogosphere regardless of whether I think it is good or not. This is likely to be substantially more than 100 posts every day, so this is not really a convenient site to follow to read every post.
  • Sam Gerstenzang - Knowledge units 'There are two models of online education: 1 Preparatory knowledge, in the form of course-based video-delivered teachings: Coursera, Udacity, Thinkful, etc. 2 On demand knowledge: Wikipedia, StackOverflow, Genius, etc. Of the two, the latter has been much more widely spread and far more influential.'
  • TYWKIWDBI ("Tai-Wiki-Widbee"): Hans Rosling clarifies world demographics 'The best hours of my academic life were spent behind or beside the podium in front of an classroom full of students, so I'm supersensitive to the nuances of lecturing. This guy has all the skills. He is recognized as a wizard at portraying otherwise-dry statistics in comprehensible visual forms (see his superb TED talk on the developing world). In addition his stage presence is captivating, and his use of English (as a second language) is excellent. [ ] [T]ake my word for it, if you are interested in the world beyond your doorstep, this video is worth 15 minutes of your time. Or at least the first five, and then see if you can stop.'
Other Business
  • Chuck Jones' 9 Rules For Drawing Road Runner Cartoons, or How to Create a Minimalist Masterpiece | Open Culture Art cannot exist without limits: the limitations of particular media, the limitations of the artist’s vision, the limitations of space and time. We always work within limits, and often those creators who are most deliberate about setting limitations for themselves produce some of the most profound and unusual works. One could name minimalists like Samuel Beckett, or Lars Van Trier, or Erik Satie. Or Chuck Jones, American animator of such classic Warner Brother’s characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and, of course, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
  • E. O. Wilson wants to know why you’re not protesting in the streets | Grist 'We are entering a new world, but we’re entering it as Paleolithic brains. Here’s my formula for Earth’s civilization: We are a Star Wars civilization. We have Stone Age emotions. We have medieval institutions — most notably, the churches. And we have god-like technology. And this god-like technology is dragging us forward in ways that are totally unpredictable.' 

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