Thursday, August 16, 2012

#bold_ideas

The idea for the #bold_ideas hashtag was born after watching an inspiring 5 minute talk from ISTE 2012 by Will Richardson (@willrich45):


iste-presentation from Will Richardson on Vimeo.

In the video, Richardson discusses 19 bold ideas for change in education.  I won't go into a discussion of each of the changes, but I would like to comment of two of them.  The first is his 4th bold idea "Flip the power switch".  As he stated in the video, we need to turn the control of the learning experience into the hands of the students.  We need to let them define their own path to learning and understanding, and support their exploration of the ideas and topics that they feel passionate about.  And if you don't believe young students have passions, just ask my two-year-old son.  He loves anything mechanical.  He is fascinated by trains, construction vehicles, tractors, cars, and motorcycles.  Now you might say that most young boys are interested in these things, and I wouldn't argue, but where did that interest come from?  

My wife and I are both very creative people and love nature.  We introduced our son to artistic activities and to the outdoors.  And while he loves both, he would pass on either one for the chance to see a train.  There's something about mechanical objects that drive his interest.  Six months from now, it might be something different... And that's okay.  The important thing is that he is given the opportunity to explore his interests and passions.  We need to give our students the same opportunity daily to explore their interests and find their passions.  I will be talking more about this in future posts.

The second bold idea from Richardson's talk that I feel warrants discussion is his suggestion to "Disrupt the system".  He encourages educators to try new things, to create an environment that nurtures innovation, and to stand up and say 'no, I won't teach to the test'.  And while most of us are required to administer standardized tests, it doesn't mean we have to standardize the educational experiences of our students.  This concept is what led me to create the bold ideas hash tag and tweet:

@javarob: Until we can standardize kids, we shouldn't be standardizing their learning.  Kids are individuals, their ed[ucation] should be too. #bold_ideas

 
We need to work towards individualizing the learning experiences of our children, and that customization can be done in many ways.  Educators are exploring strategies such as flipped learning, asynchronous lessons, understandings-based grading, and gamification of the learning environment.  We need more teachers exploring these approaches.  And if those approaches don't work, educators can look for other ways to create opportunities for their students to explore and discover, to create and evaluate, and to work collaboratively to solve real-world problems.  

My plan is to continue using the bold ideas hashtag, sharing bold ideas that can change education.  In time, I hope other educators will add their own bold ideas, and rich conversations about ways to change and improve education will follow... 
In the words of Will Richardson, it's time for us to help our students "change the world"!

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