Tag education

Questions Are a Tool to Organize Our Thinking Around What We Don’t Know …*

“If you look at the research, a four year old girl is asking as much as 300 questions a day. And when kids go into school, you see this steady decline that happens as they go through the grade levels to the point where questioning in schools, by Junior High School is almost at zero.” – Warren Berger

While Berger acknowledges that there are multiple reasons behind this alarming decline in questioning, the key culprit that he highlights is the large bias for answers that dominates the culture of our education system. If, however, “questioning enables us to organize our thinking around what we don’t know,” it is a critical capacity for navigating and thriving in the 21st century. In a time such as ours, where the pace of change keeps accelerating, where uncertainty is omnipresent and wicked problems proliferate, it is imperative that we teach our students to become fluent thinking in questions. Berger suggests checking out The Right Question Institute, which has a set of tools and resources to help children build their questioning skills.

How do you help your students grow as questioners? 

Questions Are the New Answers – Warren Berger via Big Think

Milton Glaser: You Can’t Take Anything at Face Value, You Have to Go Beyond the Superficiality of Existing Belief …*

“I saw a Cézanne that I had never seen, a pencil and watercolor of a landscape, and I was transformed. By looking at it, my world was enlarged. At this ancient age, I am still capable of astonishment, of feeling, “My god, I never had this experience before.” And that is what the arts provide, this sense of enlargement and the sense that you haven’t come to the end of your understanding—either of yourself or of other things.” – Milton Glaser

If you’re looking to infuse your day with a hefty dose of inspiration, I suggest this interview, which iconic graphic designer Milton Glaser gave for Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project. The conversation is full of insights into Milton’s creative process and his understanding of the human experience. I highly recommend finding the time to watch the video in full, but in the meantime, I have transcribed below my three favorite insights from the conversation.

make the ordinary unknown & rethink …*

Milton Glaser: Certainty Is A Closing of the Mind via The Good Life Project

{ To Make Something Is Miraculous & the Creation of Beauty, At Its Core, Is About Empathy }

After a while you begin to realize, a. how little you know about everything and, two, how vast the brain is and how it encompasses everything you can imagine, but more than that, everything you can’t imagine. What is perhaps central to this is the impulse to make things, which seems to me to be a primary characteristic of human beings—the desire to make things–whatever they turn out to be. And then, supplementary to that is the desire to create beauty which is a different, but analogous activity. So the urge to make things, probably, is a survival device, the urge to create beauty is something else, but only apparently something else, because as you know, there are no unrelated events in the human experience. So beauty, and the creation of it, is a survival mechanism. There is something about making things beautiful, and we sometimes call that art, that has something to do with creating a commonality between human beings so that they don’t kill each other. And whatever that impulse is and wherever it comes from, it certainly is contained within every human being I’ve ever met. Sometime the opportunity to articulate it occurs, sometimes it remains dormant for a lifetime, you just don’t get the shot at it.
But I’ve been very lucky, I’ve imagined myself as a maker of things since the age of five. I realized that to make something was miraculous and I never stopped. I just kept making things all my life.
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{ Learning to See is A LifeLong Endeavor; Drawing Helps }

The great benefits of drawing is that when you look at something you see it for the first time.
You have to constantly be attentive to what you deflect in life and what you don’t pay attention to and all the things that you can’t see, and all the preconceptions that you do have about everything. Those preconceptions basically blur your vision. It’s very hard to see what’s in front of you.
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{ Be Suspicious of Defining the “Good Life,” Don’t take anything at face value & go beyond the superficiality of existing belief }

I’m very suspicious of some words like that and also what they link to. I guess I feel now that you can’t take anything at face value, you have to go beyond the superficiality of existing belief. My favorite quote is, “Certainty is a closing of the mind”. And so, I don’t know what a good life is. A good life for me, certainly, has been the things that I think are important–friendships that I have; people that I love; certainly, a marriage that has endured and continues to endure; teaching, which I’ve been doing for well over half a century, and feeling that whatever you know has a possibility of being transmitted and shared—outside of that I wouldn’t know how to define a good life. And as you know some people seem to be heroes to some and villains to others.
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{ The Independent Project …* } What If Students Designed Their Own Learning?

A few weeks ago I posted a deeply insightful observation from John Maeda about the disconnect between thinking and doing in academia. Maeda argued that the gift of ideas is the curse of doing nothing and highlighted the stigma around “doing” in the world of pure academia. I posed the question: How might we help students become fluent in both literacies of doing and thinking? Just this morning I read an interesting article on Ashoka’s Start Empathy blog about the importance of college students taking ownership of their education by engaging with the myriad learning opportunities surrounding them both in and outside the classroom. The quote below really struck a chord with me and I thought it highlighted a potent entryway into rethinking * the harmful dichotomies we have created between thinking and doing and being students and “real” people functioning in the “real” world:

“The very best students wring the veritable sponge of their institution for every last drop of value. They assume ownership of their education by taking advantage of all the available resources. They let what they learn shape them as human beings so that when the mantle of “student” eventually falls away, a knowledgeable, prepared, and motivated person remains underneath.” – Engaged Learning, Engaged Living 

What might this process look like? How do we enable the young minds that are entrusted to us to engage with and construct their learning in a way that shapes them as human beings rather than simply as “students”–an identity which is context-specific and thus ephemeral (and far too often, is experienced as imposed and begrudged by children who are disengaged and cannot wait to shed the “student” label, eagerly awaiting emancipation from the school system)? In other words, how might we produce ‘knowmads’–lifelong, engaged and passionate learners? One fantastic initiative, which attempts to do just that, is The Independent Project, started by a high school student, Sam Levin, in 2010.

The Independent Project is an alternative student driven school-within-a-school that was started at Monument Mountain Regional High School.

The idea for The Independent Project came about from that student’s own experience of high school, and his observation of the experiences of his peers. The two main things he felt were missing from many high school classrooms were engagement and mastery. He also felt that even students who were engaged were often learning material that was not very intellectually valuable. They were learning lots of information, but very little about how to obtain information on their own, or even create new information. His intent was to design a school in which students would be fully engaged in and passionate about what they were learning, would have the experience of truly mastering something, or developing expertise in something, and would be learning how to learn. He felt that the most important ingredient to a school like that would be that it was student-driven. Research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on engagement suggested that if students have more control over their learning, they will be more engaged, excited, and committed to their studies. He also felt that it was important for the school to be focused on methods rather than specific topics, having students work like actual scientists, mathematicians, or writers. – Sam Levin’s ‘White Paper’ on The Independent Project 

The pilot for the Independent Project ran for one semester, accepting eight students ranging in grade levels and academic ability, and was divided into four parts: Orientation, The Sciences, The Arts, and The Collective Endeavor. The students’ days were broken up into collective learning in the mornings and independent, project-based, inquiry-led learning in the afternoons. Watch the two videos below, produced by the students themselves, to learn more about The Independent Project. Also be sure to check out Sam Levin’s White Paper on the project for a detailed overview of the pilot and helpful tips, ideas and insights on the project.

question, engage & rethink …*

Hat Tip: This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like via MindShift, published July 14, 2014

Find Out Which Of Your Life’s External Circumstances Have A Strong Effect on Your Happiness & Life Satisfaction …*

Find Out Which Of Your Life's External Circumstances Have A Strong Effect on Your Happiness & Life Satisfaction ...* | rethinked.org

On Tuesday, I shared the happiness equation that Seligman puts forth in Authentic Happiness:

H = S + C + V

Where H is your enduring level of happiness, S is your set range, C is the circumstances of your life, and V represents factors under your voluntary control. (45)

We looked at the (largely genetic) factors that affect your set range, now let’s take a look at the C variable—the external circumstances of your life that affect happiness.

MONEYMoney Has Little or no Effect Once You Are Comfortable Enough & More Materialistic People Are Less Happy

Would more money make you happier? The data says yes, at both an individual and collective level, but only up to a certain point:

Overall national purchasing power and average life satisfaction go strongly in the same direction. Once the gross national product exceed $8,000 per person, however, the correlation disappears, and added wealth brings no further life satisfaction. (53) 

In very poor nations, where poverty threatens life itself, being rich does predict greater well-being. In wealthier nations, however, where almost everyone has a basic safety net, increases in wealth have negligible effects on personal happiness. In the United States, the very poor are lower in happiness, but once a person is just barely comfortable, added money adds little or no happiness. Even the fabulously rich—the Forbes 100, with an average net worth of over 125 million dollars—are only slightly happier than the average American. (53)

In the same way that how you think about stress is more important than how much stress you experience in influencing your health, Seligman notes that, “how important money is to you, more than money itself, influences your happiness.” (55)

Materialism seems to be counterproductive: at all levels of real income, people who value money more than other goals are less satisfied with their income and with their lives as a whole, although precisely why is a mystery. (55)

MARRIAGE – A Robust Effect on Happiness & Life Satisfaction, But Perhaps Not Causal

Unlike money, which has at most a small effect, marriage is robustly related to happiness. (55) Happily married people report much greater levels of happiness than non-married people. However, people in unhappy marriages report lower levels of happiness than non-married people. The relationship between marriage and happiness remains unclear—is it that happy people are more likely to get married than depressed people who tend to be more withdrawn or the other way around, the verdict is still out.

The National Opinion Research Center surveyed 35,000 Americans over the last thirty years; 40 percent of married people said they were “very happy,” while only 24 percent of unmarried, divorced and widowed people said this. Living with a significant other (but not being married) is associated with more happiness in individualistic cultures like ours, but with less happiness in collectivist cultures like Japan and China. The happiness advantage for the married holds controlling for age and income, and it is equally true for both men and women. (55)

SOCIAL LIFE –  A Robust Effect, But Perhaps Not Causal

Very happy people differ markedly from both average and unhappy people in that they all lead a rich and fulfilling social life. The very happy people spend the least time alone and the most time socializing, and they are rated highest on good relationships by themselves and also by their friends. (56) 

NEGATIVE EMOTION – Only a Moderate Effect on Happiness & Life Satisfaction

Contrary to popular belief, having more than your share of misery does not mean you cannot have a lot of joy as well. (56)

AGE

Life satisfaction goes up slightly with age, pleasant affect declines slightly, and negative affect does not change. What does change as we age is the intensity of our emotions. Both “feeling on top of the world” and being “in the depths of despair” become less common with age and experience. (58)

HEALTH – Subjective Health, Not Objective Health Matters

Objective good health is barely related to happiness; what matters is our subjective perception of how healthy we are, and it is a tribute to our ability to adapt to adversity that we are able to find ways to appraise our health positively even when we are quite sick. (58)

Moderate ill health does not bring unhappiness in its wake, but severe illness does: When disabling illness is severe and long-lasting, happiness and life satisfaction do decline, although not nearly as much as you might expect. Individuals admitted to a hospital with only one chronic health problem (such as heart disease) show marked increases in happiness over the next year, but the happiness of individuals with five of more health problems deteriorates over time. (58)

EDUCATION, CLIMATE, RACE & GENDER – No Effect on Happiness & Life Satisfaction

Turns out that none of these variables have much of an effect on happiness and life satisfaction.

Education – Even though education is a means to higher income, it is not a means to higher happiness, except only slightly and only among those people with low income. Nor does intelligence influence happiness in either direction. (59)

Climate – While sunny climes do combat seasonal affective disorder (winter depression), happiness levels do not vary with climate. People suffering through a Nebraska winter believe people in California are happier, but they are wrong; we adapt to good weather completely and very quickly. (59)

Race – At least in the United States, is not related to happiness in any consistent way. In spite of worse economic numbers, African-Americans and Hispanics have markedly lower rates of depression than Caucasians, but their level of reported happiness is no higher than Caucasians (except perhaps among older men). (59)

Gender – Gender has a fascinating relation to mood. In average emotional tone, women and men don’t differ, but this strangely is because women are both happier and sadder than men. (59)

RELIGION – A Moderate Effect on Happiness & Life Satisfaction

Survey data consistently show religious people as being somewhat happier and more satisfied with life than nonreligious people. (59)

Religious Americans are clearly less likely to abuse drugs, commit crimes, divorce, and kill themselves. They are also physically healthier and live longer. Religious mothers of children with disabilities fight depression better, and religious people are less thrown by divorce, unemployment, illness, and death. (59)

 …*

Are you surprised by any of these results? Which areas of your life bring you the most happiness?

This concludes our review of the external factors that influence happiness and life satisfaction, next week we turn to the good stuff—the internal variables of happiness, over which you have a much greater degree of control.

Source: Seligman, Martin. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology To Realize Your Potential For Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press, 2002. Print.

{ Stanford 2025 } Design Thinking Major Paradigm Shifts For Future Learning Opportunities …*

Just yesterday, I was writing about an upcoming MOOC on the Science of Happiness that is poised to make online learning history according to this Forbes writer. MOOCs have sent the world of education into a bit of a frenzy as we attempt to collectively shape and understand the disruptive effects that online learning will have on future learning environments. Personally, I find the idea that schools have now been rendered obsolete by online learning misguided. It is a gross oversight of the critical need and function of social connection to deep learning. As Sophia Pink, daughter of Dan Pink, observed after spending a year of independent learning, using a mix of online learning courses and independent projects:

“classroom education shouldn’t be fully replaced by online courses, but it can draw on what works well online. Huge online courses have many virtues but need to do better at fostering the sort of side by side back and forth collaboration that we all need to learn.”

What might this relationship between social and online learning look like? And what types(s) of environment might facilitate and enhance this hybrid form of learning? Those are precisely the questions that Stanford’s d.school explored through its @Stanford Project, which ultimately generated the Stanford2025 exhibit and website. Noting the potential disruption posed by online learning and noticing that “many parts of the undergraduate experience are ripe for reinvention” prompted a team at the d.school to question how time, space, expertise, accreditation, and student agency may also change within higher education:

College has multiple aims: it’s a place to gain expertise and develop abilities, but also to come of age. These are entwined together in a residential college experience―a complex and special setting. Enormous energy and investment are now being placed in experimentation and pioneering in the online learning space. We wanted to complement these efforts with an exploration of learning and living on campus, now and in the future.

A design team from the Stanford d.school worked with hundreds of perceptive, creative, and generous students, faculty, and administrators over the course of a year to explore this territory. We considered many lenses—from how students prepare for a Stanford education while still in high school, to patterns of undergraduate decision-making about what and how they study, to the shifting needs and expectations from future employers. 

The project culminated with an experiential exhibit entitled “Stanford 2025,” held at the d.school in May 2014. To encourage an exploratory mindset, the event was staged as a time-travel journey. The community embarked to the distant future—and landed just at the moment when Stanford was looking back retrospectively at major paradigm shifts that “happened” around 2025. These possible shifts were shared as provocations—a subjective, student-centered imagining of what could happen as the future unfolds.

While the Stanford2025 exploration of future learning environments is focused on higher education, the provocations listed are critically relevant to K-12 learning as well. Head over to the website to dive more deeply into each of the four provocations and download the accompanying toolkit to “Make them your own. Try them, tweak them, push them, or even reject them.”

  • The Reflect Worksheets are excursions into imagined worlds inspired by the provocations.
  • The Imagine Cards are prompts to spark inspiration in your own work.
  • The Try Playbook is a set of activities and suggestions to get started.

reflect, imagine, try & rethink …*

{ OPEN LOOP UNIVERSITY } Bringing an End to a Society of Alumni in Favor of Lifetime Learning:

From: Students received four years of college education, front-loaded at the beginning of adulthood

To: Students received a lifetime of learning opportunities.

The perspective that the university could effectively serve its original mission while continuing to narrowly define the time in one’s life when learning would happen was challenged.

Open Loop Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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PACED EDUCATION } Abolishing the Class Year & Embracing Adaptive Learning:

From: Structured, 4-year courses of study advanced students by seat hours on a quarterly rhythm.

To: Three phases of varied lengths provided personalized, adaptive, calibrated learning.

Paced Education Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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AXIS FLIP }  Flipping the Axes of Knowledge & Competency:

From: Knowledge within a particular discipline was the criteria for graduation; skill development was secondary.

To: Stanford flipped the axes so that skill development became the foundation.

Axis Flip Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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PURPOSE LEARNING } Declaring Missions, Not Majors:

From: Students declared Majors and focused their studies around set requirements.

To: Students declared Missions and coupled their disciplinary pursuit with the purpose that fueled it. 

“I’m a biology major” was replaced by “I’m learning human biology to eliminate world hunger.” Or “I’m learning Computer Science and Political Science to rebuild how citizens engage with their governments.”  

The goal was to help students select a meaningful course of study while in school, and then scaffold a clear arc for the first 10 – 15 years of their professional lives. It wasn’t about the career trajectory, but the reasons behind it.

Purpose Learning Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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[ Hat Tip: Students Travel To 2025 To Question the Future Of Higher Education via PSFK, published May 9, 2014 ]

What At Your Age Is Called Fantasy & Imagination Is Called Creative Thinking Later On, Don’t Lose It …*

What At Your Age Is Called Fantasy & Imagination Is Called Creative Thinking Later On, Don't Lose It ...*  | rethinked.org

In the past few months, there has been much focus in education circles on the issue of creative confidence. There seems to be a general consensus that the ways in which mainstream traditional education processes and systems are set up strip students of their natural capacity for creative thinking by undermining their creative confidence. Core77 is running an ongoing series with Moa Dickmark, an architect and designer, on working with kids. I was particularly grateful to read Dickmark’s advice to remind students to hold on to their natural capacity for fantasy and imagination as it is a skill that they will need for the rest of their lives. While it is important to find ways to ‘rehabilitate’ those who have been robbed of their natural creative capacity and confidence, we may save future generations a lot of time and unlearning, if we warn kids to hold on to their natural abilities, no matter what demands the system puts on them.

Another thing that is good to think about is to tell the students when you start working with them that:

There’s no right or wrong! If you want to write down your idea, write, we don’t care about the spelling, or grammar for that matter. If you want to draw down your idea, draw. If you want to build your idea, we are going to do that too! 

AND:

What at your age is called Fantasy and Imagination is called Creative Thinking later on, and is something older people go to university to learn more about. So don’t lose it, you will need it now and for the rest of your life! 

Source: Co-Creative Processes In Education: The Small Things That Make A Big Difference, via Core77, published March 10, 2014.

Tim Brown On Nurturing Your Creative Capacity Through Relaxed Attention …*

IDEO‘s Tim Brown has just published a great post over on LinkedIn about the importance of relaxed attention to creative problem-solving :

During relaxed attention, a problem or challenge is taking up space in your brain, but it isn’t on the front burner. Relaxed attention lies somewhere between meditation, where you completely clear your mind, and the laser-like focus you apply when tackling a tough math problem. Our brains can make cognitive leaps when we’re not completely obsessed with a challenge, which is why good ideas sometimes come to us when we’re in the shower or talking a walk or on a long drive.

Unfortunately, our education system provides ever shrinking opportunities for students to engage in the types of activities that lead to relaxed attention:

in both the UK and US education systems, since the late 1980s, the trend has been away from unstructured play and time studying the arts—both prime times for switching gears into relaxed cognition—and toward more structured, standardized National Curriculums. According to the report, this focus on finding the single right answer for the test instead of exploring many alternate solutions has resulted in “a significant decline in creative thinking scores in US schools. Using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), and a sample of 272,599 pupils (kindergarten to fourth grade), evidence suggests that the decline is steady and persistent [affecting] teachers’ and pupils’ ability to think creatively, imaginatively and flexibly.”

Luckily, Brown offers three suggestions on how to enhance your own and your students’ creative capacity through engaging relaxed attention.

Source: Why Daydreamers Will Save the World, published February 24, 2014.

It’s A Good Time To Be A Knowmad…* – Free Course To Learn About Using Human-Centered Design For Social Innovation

{ It's A Good Time To Be A Knowmad ...* } Free Course To Learn About Using Human-Centered Design For Social Innovation | rethinked.org

Exciting new learning opportunity on the horizon: Human-Centered Design For Social Innovation, a free five-week course brought to you by Acumen & Ideo.org. This will be the course’s second run as it was previously offered last summer. Registration opens February 18, 2014.

This free course will get you started using the human-centered design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change in your community.

Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation from IDEO.org on Vimeo.

Other intriguing learning opportunities to check out:

Tina Seelig’s upcoming courseCreativity: Music To My Earsa six week course designed to explore several factors that stimulate creativity in individuals, teams, and organizations. Registration is now open for Creativity: Music To My Ears and the course will begin April 2, 2014.

Dave Levin’s free four-week long MOOC on CourseraTeaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms, which explores the interconnection between character research, education, and academic rigor. The course began yesterday and features our own Dominic Randolph

learn & rethink …

Play As A Serious Solution To the Challenge of Fostering Vital Skills In Children & Preparing Them For Today’s World

Play As A Serious Solution To the Challenge of Fostering Vital Skills In Children & Preparing Them For Today’s World | rethinked.org

 

” [ Play is ] one of our brain’s favorite ways to learn. When children are active participants in their education, they gain more from the experience, are more engaged in the learning process, and do better in school. Play allows us to test our capabilities, as all forms of learning should. It stimulates children’s learning abilities by fostering creativity, building critical thinking, sparking intellectual curiosity, and facilitating learning by doing. Learning by doing deepens our engagement and understanding significantly, and strengthens the most important pathways our brains use to learn and develop.

The way we see it at LEGO Foundation is that play is not a luxury; it’s the way to support brain development and our children’s potential. This is why we see play as a serious solution to the challenge of fostering vital skills in our children, and preparing them to navigate today´s world.” – Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, CEO of the LEGO Foundation

Head over to Forbes.com to read the rest of the interview with Dr. Grob-Zakhary: The Transformative Power of Play And Its Link To Creativity, published January 25, 2014.

{ Creative Confidence } Shantell Martin on How Unlearning Is Harder Than Learning …*

{ Creative Confidence } Shantell Martin on How Unlearning Is Harder Than Learning ...*  | rethinked.org

“If you ask a kid, ‘Can you draw?’ They answer, ‘Yeah, of course. Where are the pens?’ But if you ask an adult, they often say ‘Oh, no. I can’t draw.’ or, ‘I can only draw stick men.’ Through this infrastructure that we call the school system, or just the social system, we’ve trained creativity out of people. When you’re a kid, and if you can’t draw a house that looks like a house, then you fail. If you can’t draw a person that looks like a person, you fail. All those kids that had a crazy imagination, that were doing their own creative thing, and had their own unique style, they’re told ‘You fail, you fail, you fail.’”

“We all have that voice inside that says, ‘You can’t do that.’ And you have to overpower that voice. It’s definitely about patience and confidence. Unlearning is harder than learning.” -Shantell Martin 

Source: Shantell Martin: Why Being An Artist Is Fundamentally About Hard Work via PSFK, published January

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