Posts Tagged “earcos07”

So, sometimes you’re at a conference and maybe you don’t make it to a workshop…

All right, so I didn’t attend any sessions on Saturday. It was a family-day. The kids had not seen me much for the past few days. We did bring the kids by the hotel to visit with friends and then we spent the day with them in town. So I wasn’t any “brighter” at the end of the day…maybe I was a little workshopped out, but mostly, I just needed some time with the little ones.

small worldMy wife and I did attend the final dinner event though and had a great time. A lot of people don’t like those events, but for me it was a wonderful chance to catch up with many friends dotted all over Asia now, whom I’ve come to know after 15 years working in the region. It was fun to run into an old math colleague and then, together, meet former students who have now become teachers. It turned into a nice debate on who was the “greatest math teacher ever”. Ahhh…how impressionable young minds are … :-) Actually, it was terrific to see former students choose international teaching.

One of the added pluses, as well, was that after continually missing each other, Jeff Utecht and I managed to find each other and talk over a beer. He is as engaging in person as he presents himself online and it was great to share experiences and thoughts on change in schools. Shanghai is lucky to have him and I can’t imagine a school that wouldn’t bend over backwards to get him should he ever try to leave (cough, cough, I.S. Bangkok, cough, cough). He works too hard though and, as my wife suggested, he must have a very patient wife.

Earcos was a terrific experience. One that I had been ducking in recent years. It was a good learning weekend, but also it was a great networking event. Touching base with old friends and meeting new ones is an important part of conferences like this. I am glad that I went.

KL in ’08 or bust!

photo by mattlogelin

Comments No Comments »

Day 2 of the conference brought us another wonderful student keynote who spoke on the Chinese tale of the Frog in the Well. The frog only has a limited view of the sky through the top of the well, and until she is moved and shown the true nature of things, her horizons and her perspective are never changed. A fine start to the day for teachers to think about and to consider international education.

Then, the ever dynamic, Ian Jukes came on to speak. With excellent supporting visuals, Ian spoke on the dire need for our schools to address the thinking skills needed to prepare students for the world that outside of education has changed and continues to change so rapidly. Great quote from Woodrow Wilson, “it’s easier to move a cemetery, than it is to change a curriculum.” He makes a terrific point that the main difficulty is that the change we are dealing with is hard to comprehend and so it is hard to make our own changes when we are dealing with the “tyranny of the urgent.”

Kids today are different – Jukes spoke on how the visual cortex of the brain is larger, more developed than kids of 20 years ago. “Screenagers”, he called them, citing two Time Magazine articles. Interestingly, he talked about how current research seems to indicate that our brains continue to adapt and make new connections. But the brain needs regular exposure to the “change-maker” to make this change. So does this have implications on our schools? (rhetorical)

Jukes talked a fair amount on games and their impact on kids. He encouraged us to learn about these games, to play them with kids and to get our “asses kicked” by kids. They are hard-wiring themselves through these technologies. We should need to tap into this.

I saw a lot of Ian Jukes this week. And the message is clear. Change is here…change is fast (exponential) and getting faster. And predicting the future? Impossible. So what does that mean for us? It means that we need schools to be different. I haven’t had “my own” class in a few years now and I do think about how I would do things differently if I were in the classroom again. But my need for change in education is even greater now. As the tech-guy, this stuff seems to fall under my umbrella for change. And I need to work out how to convince a curriculum office to dump content and adopt thinking skills, a faculty to include me in their lesson planning, and an administration to hire and evaluate based on a willingness to adapt to these ideas and change the way schools work.

Is this overstepping my bounds? Probably. But the need seems to strong to ignore. Education really seems to be failing kids. They seem to be learning in spite of us, not with us. Maybe that’s too harsh, but I liken it to the exact opposite of wikipedia. Wikipedia is accurate at the macro-level, but could be inaccurate at the micro. I think real learning is possibly working in individual rooms with individual teachers, but we are failing miserably on the school-wide education-as-a-whole level in preparing kids for futures requiring 21st century skills. (speaking of which, I attended a workshop on these skills that set us back on moving forward more than anything I’ve seen….good presentation is good presentation and when it isn’t good…ouch. Until I get up and start presenting myself in that forum, I suppose I should not judge).

Luckily, I am spoiled. I work with a forward thinking leader colleague and am about to be joined by another in the ES. I saw many faces from my school at the various Jukes sessions. The tide could start changing at ISB and I think that those who are interested is as good a place to start as any. Let’s see how many come to school on Monday wanting to be committed.

Comments No Comments »

biotechGreat start to the conference.

A student from my school, ISBangkok, gave the first ever student keynote address. As expected, she was incredible, speaking to what it means to be a Global Citizen. She emphasized that it took more than being an international student, but also required breaking down barriers that exist between nationalities within an international school and bringing common experience to all. She likened her journey towards global citizenry to exploration for the New Atlantis. A new world of global awareness and of solving global issues.

Not without intent, this led well into the keynote speaker Jean-Francois Rischard who spoke about topics from his book High Noon: 20 global problems and 20 years to solve them. He spoke to global issues that need to be dealt with AND CAN BE DEALT WITH, but require systemic changes in the way the world can approach them. While his outlook seemed bleak, his solutions were do-able…if only world leaders would listen. At times, I wonder whether world experts can get together and begin to develop solutions without the world leaders’ blessings.

I attended two sessions by Ian Jukes today. He spoke on the exponential times that we live in. Change is inevitable, but more importantly it is nearly incomprehensible. The degree to which access, processing power, information, and bio- and nanotechnology will infuse our lives in the coming (soon) years is crazy.

His best line of the day:

“the difference between science fiction and reality? Science fiction is more believable.”

So what are the implications on our curriculum? What curriculum? Content can no longer be the focus…higher order thinking and communication must be. I worry less about the technology skills of students and more about their ability to use with responsibility, with understanding, and with critical evaluation. We cannot prepare them for the tech. that will exist. But we NEED to prepare them for the thinking that they’ll require.

So when and how can we re-invent schools to focus on thinking skills instead of “content”? Who makes this call and how do they make it with majority teacher, parent, and administrative groups that are stuck in 1960′s educational needs and outcomes?

Good stuff.

Looking forward to hitting Jeff‘s workshops in the coming days.

Side note: Have loved this example of Slam Poetry by Taylor Mali, called What a Teacher Makes, since it was shared with me at a workshop last summer. Thanks to Julie Lindsay for finding the YouTube clip and sharing. It is even more powerful as a video clip than in the audio clip format I had. I like it so much, it’s on my sidebar and will stay there a while. Enjoy.

Comments No Comments »

I will be attending the EARCOS ETC conference in Bangkok, starting tomorrow and running through the weekend. This year there seems to be a focus on technology as there are a bunch of quality presentations going on regarding 21st century learning skills and other tech-focused subjects. Ian Jukes is one of the keynote speakers and I will also be attending a pre-conference session with him.

The hard part this year is going to be choosing which session to go to when multiple ‘interesting’ sessions happen at the same time. I will try to blog about some of the thoughts that come out of this conference, as I am sure that Jeff Utecht, from Thinking Stick will do as well (he is also presenting).

One cool random fact about the conference…my wife designed the “cover” art. She’ll probably kill me for telling people, but I’m very proud, she’s got a great sense of design.

Posts on the ETC conference to come…

Comments 2 Comments »