User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Experiential Learning: Is there really a question about this?

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The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them. Aristotle

Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results. John Dewey

My training as an educator occurred through experiential education rather than the traditional route.  Experiential Education is based on the following principles as articulated by the Association for Experiential Education:

  • Experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis.
  • Experiences are structured to require the learner to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
  • Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner2 is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
  • Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
  • The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
  • Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others and learner to the world at large.
  • The educator and learner may experience success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty, because the outcomes of experience cannot totally be predicted.
  • Opportunities are nurtured for learners and educators to explore and examine their own values.
  • The educator’s primary roles include setting suitable experiences, posing problems, setting boundaries, supporting learners, insuring physical and emotional safety, and facilitating the learning process.
  • The educator recognizes and encourages spontaneous opportunities for learning.
  • Educators strive to be aware of their biases, judgments and pre-conceptions, and how these influence the learner.
  • The design of the learning experience includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes. (http://www.aee.org/what-is-ee)

I know no other way of teaching.  Knowing the powerful results of experiential education, it confuses me as to why more (if not all) educators don’t teach this way.  In the graphic below, the images in the left column are learners from my own classrooms, the images on the right symbolize more traditional approaches in educational institutions.  As “A picture says a 1000 words,” the expressions of the learners say engagement, interest, joy, and learning.  Which do you want your students, your children to experience at school?

Prefer_

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

How Language Affects Our Teaching Practices

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I had the privilege of hearing two Native American women, Rina Swentzell and Tessie Naranjo, talk about their mission to “save” the Tewa language from extinction.  What was profound about their talk was their discussion of the power that language has to influence how we think and what we do; and that language is culturally determined.

Rina Swentzell posed the following questions during her talk:

  • What is our relationship to words?
  • How does language connect us?
  • How does language become representative of our hearts?

 tewa

Dr. Swentzell went on to contrast Tewa to the English language.  Tewa language is softer, European languages harsher and harder.  Tewa language focuses on verbs; as a doing-ness.  European language emphasizes noun – the things.  Tewa is inclusive, European languages often are not.  She also discussed how very similar words have different meanings,  For example, the Tewa words for to teach and to learn are closely related to “to breath”.  She also wondered, “How does English affect our thinking and change us?”

Guy Deutscher author of “Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages” notes:

When your language routinely obliges you to specify certain types of information, it forces you to be attentive to certain details in the world and to certain aspects of experience that speakers of other languages may not be required to think about all the time. And since such habits of speech are cultivated from the earliest age, it is only natural that they can settle into habits of mind that go beyond language itself, affecting your experiences, perceptions, associations, feelings, memories and orientation in the world.

As an educational reformer, this lead me to give more thought about the language used for educational culture in the United States and how this language affects teaching and learning practices.  Some common educational terminology includes (a sampling):

  • Standards
  • Objectives
  • High Stakes Tests
  • “Class” room
  • Accountability
  • Schedule
  • Benchmarks
  • Mastery
  • Methodology
  • Performance-Based

This words, as analyzed in relation to Dr. Swentzell’s comments, are nouns, do not focus on the doing-ness or actions that can/should be taken by administrators, teachers, and students, are non-nurturing, and do not emphasize relationship.

So maybe, as in line with the language of the Tewa, the discussions surrounding education could/should focus on the verbs, on the doing-ness of administrators, educators, and learners with each other, the content, and the world-at-large. A sampling of action verbs for education include:

  • Teach
  • Learn
  • Think
  • Give
  • Plan
  • Support
  • Experience
  • Engage
  • Inspire
  • Inquire
  • Change
  • Grow
  • Discuss
  • Dissect
  • Affirm
  • Analyze
  • Relate
  • Empathize
  • Connect
  • Create

2014-10-18_0900

Such intentional use of language would, as research suggests, change the way we think about and ultimately DO education.

Math teacher, Jason Faulkner , How We Talk About Education Shows What It Means To Us reflects on how his thinking about education affects his teaching practices.

As I reflect on how this narrative is told in my own classroom, Parker Palmer’s words weigh heavily on my heart. As the teacher, one who Palmer calls “the mediator between the knower and the known, the living link in the epistemological chain,” do I not surreptitiously perpetuate an “epistemological error” in my classroom whenever I present knowledge as something to possess or control or master, rather than as a gift to love?

Those serious about educational reform based at putting the learner at the center, need to take a long, critical, dissecting examination at the terminology we use to explain teaching and learning.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Maker Education Conference Workshop

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The slide presentation and participant photos from a professional development workshop for educators:

 

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

The Mindset of the Maker Educator

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Here are some graphics, Thinglinks, and the slideshow I created for my Mindset of the Maker Educator Workshop:

perfect stormhttps://www.thinglink.com/scene/575147870160683008


educator_as_maker_educator_1http://www.thinglink.com/scene/529031635128025090


makingreflection

 

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 8, 2014 at 12:24 am

How Educators Can Assist Learners in Developing a Growth Mindset

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I have written, described, and presented about the growth mindset in education settings, see

This post delves a little deeper, and hopefully provides some additional ideas for how educators can assist their learners in developing a growth mindset.

Part of facilitating a growth mindset within learners involves changing some preconceptions of the role of teacher.  One such change is in viewing one of the roles as being that of a coach.  As Kirsten Olson discusses in Teacher As Coach: Transforming Teaching With the A Coaching Mindset:

Coaches operate with an underlying assumption that giving advice to others undermines the confidence and self-worth of others.  Others don’t need to be fixed.  In teaching we need to move to exactly this stance in order to foster creativity in our students–to allow our students the choice, control, novelty and challenge that builds their creativity.  Without the assumption that our students are already competent, imaginative, and ready to burst forth with regular exhibitions of novel and valuable ideas and products, we are limiting their creative capacities before they’ve even had a chance to discover them.

The educator, as a growth mindset facilitator and coach, has a different, often unique, set of beliefs about students learning and growth. The following infographic shows (1) the common beliefs of an educator who promotes a growth mindset, and (2) some reflection questions about instructional practices that reinforce the growth mindset:

Growth Mindset_ Educator Edition-2

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

September 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Growth Mindset: Personal Accountability and Reflection

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I am an adjunct faculty for several teacher education and educational technology programs.  I have been so for a few decades.  During that time I have noticed the changing nature of student behaviors and expectations regarding their class projects and assignments.  Students seem to expect perfect grades for not so perfect work.  I can predict that when I “mark down” a student, I will receive a complaint about that mark down (it happened just this evening) even with clear cut and concrete grading criteria like uses references to support ideas in blog posts, includes copyright available images.

I have been studying, blogging and presenting about the growth mindset (see The Educator with a Growth Mindset: A Staff Workshop).  When speaking of a growth mindset, a fixed mindset also needs to be discussed and described.  Fixed mindsets are associated with avoiding failure at all costs.  What I don’t see mentioned as part of a fixed, or maybe they be called toxic mindsets, are characteristics or attitudes like:

  • Mediocre is often good enough for me as long as I get the work done.
  • I expect my teachers to give me full credit for completion and submission of my work.  Quality is not a variable.
  • It is okay to just do “enough” work to minimally fulfill the requirements.
  • Good grades are what really matter to me.  I am not really interested in receiving qualitative feedback.

In response to these experiences, I developed a Personal Accountability and Reflection series of questions.  I will suggest that students use this “checklist” in order to develop and enhance their growth mindsets through personal accountability and reflection.

  • Did I work as hard as I could have?
  • Did I set and maintain high standards for myself?
  • Did I spend enough time to do quality work?
  • Did I regulate my procrastination, distractions, and temptations in order to complete my work?
  • Did I make good use of available resources?
  • Did I ask questions if I needed help?
  • Did I review and re-review my work for possible errors?
  • Did I consider best practices for similar work?
  • Is my work something for which I am proud – that I would proudly show to a large, global audience?

Growth Mindset_ Personal Accountability and Reflection

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

September 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm

The Intersection of Growth Mindsets and Maker Education

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I have a recent interest in both Growth Mindsets and Maker Education; and have blogged and presented on both of these topics.  As such and because of my passion for both of these area, I have been thinking about the intersection between the two.  This intersection, I found, is strong and powerful.

A growth mindset tolerates more risk and failure, while a fixed mindset tends to avoid risk and its accompanying frustration. It is obvious which mindset helps someone adapt to and contribute to a world that is constantly changing. Dweck points out that many who excel academically have a fixed mindset, which limits them to exploring only the areas they were told they were good at. Such mindsets are often found within the teaching profession itself, and presents a true challenge in adopting Maker principles to the classroom of the near future. Conversely, many who do poorly in school have taken too seriously the judgment of others about their abilities in subjects such as math or science. In both cases, such limiting views of oneself are self-defeating and can hold people back from exploring new areas and developing unknown capabilities. Making is about developing one’s full potential. (Ed Tech and the Maker Movement)

Craig Lambert notes the connections between a growth mindset and maker movement in a blog post he wrote for the Maker Faire Atlanta.

I’m aware that many, if not all, Makers seem to hold the growth mindset. They relish challenges, they want to stretch themselves, they want to try and do things that they have never done before.  In fact, it seems that what we really need as a human race is a whole lot more people with the growth mindset in order to tackle and overcome the many challenges we face. (A Growth Mindset)

Some of the characteristics of the intersection of a Growth Mindset and Making include:

  • Effort is valued.
  • Hard work leads to positive results.
  • Growth & development are at the forefront.
  • Everyone can do.
  • Focus is on the process of learning.
  • One’s personal strengths, creativity, curiosity breed results.
  • Challenges are seen as opportunities.
  • Capabilities and skills can be developed, improved, and expanded.
  • Failure is approached as iterative.
  • Feedback, positive and constructive, is openly accepted and used for growth.

growth&makerCreative Commons License
Growth Mindsets & Maker Education by Jackie Gerstein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

September 7, 2014 at 9:13 pm

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