Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chapter 7 Thinking as Doing

Sorry it's late! 

“The current educational regime is based on a certain view about what kind of knowledge is important: ‘knowing that’ versus ‘knowing how’. This corresponds roughly to universal knowledge versus individual experience.”
We need to teach students how not that in order for them to gain the most knowledge. They need to know how to troubleshoot when the technology “isn’t doing what it is suppose to be doing.” I like Crawford’s example of computing a square root on a calculator, and not being about to recognize if the calculator computed it correctly or not.

“If thinking is bound up with action, then the task of getting an adequate grasp on the world, intellectually, depends on our doing stuff in it.” I know that I learn more if I actually do something rather than just being told or shown.

Overall, this chapter reminded me how important “doing” is in education. Providing these experiences will truly help our students. The more real life, hands on experiences we can give our students, the better, It also brought up the point of flexible thinking. If we refer/rely to the manual, engine light, and calculator as always having the correct information and not use our knowledge, we may be steered in the wrong direction. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chapter 6: The Contradictions of the Cubicle

(Sorry it's a day late!)

I think there were lots of interesting ideas brought up in this chapter...

#1: Quantity vs. Quality: When Crawford was talking about his job writing abstracts for articles, he discussed the need to meet the growing quota and sacrificing the quality of the abstracts. To his boss, the quantity was more important than the quality (something that you don't stress to students). Due to the demands of his job, Crawford had to turn off his brain, in a sense, to not think too deeply about the articles he was reading. His ultimate goal was to finish reading 28 articles a day and writing abstracts for each of them; not to take his time and give the credit to the author that was due to him/her. Relating this to school, it once again reminds me of the demanding curriculum we are faced with yearly, specifically in math. My math program require me to get through 10 chapters of material, test on each chapter (with a goal of 85% or better for each student), and also give a midyear and end of year assessment. In order to teach everything that needs to be taught, a new concept is covered each day regardless of who may have missed the previous concept. This curriculum is a "mile wide and an inch deep". We are constantly throwing new concepts at the kids when they haven't mastered the basics.

#2: The importance of a CREW. This really struck a chord with me because I spend lots of time in my classroom, as many teachers do, working on building the "classroom community/family." In order to make things run smoothly and be successful, we need to work together as a team (well I guess a crew). As a crew we need to embrace what everyone brings to the table and use those skills in the most effective way. When these things happen, success is easier to reach.

#3: I have a diploma, now what? With the push to go to college and get a degree (and then a Masters degree), people are graduating with diplomas...and LOTS OF DEBT. Graduating and getting the diploma are great accomplishments, but when you can't find a job that uses the degree, it's 4 years of work for "nothing". Also, thinking back to my undergrad degree, I spent a lot of money on courses that didn't really do much for me. What was valuable in college was getting into the classroom, learning from veteran teachers, and testing things out on my own. Luckily, I was able to get a job right out of college, a job that utilized my teaching degree. But I know plenty of people who have graduated with various degrees and aren't using them (not to say they don't have jobs or aren't making money, they just aren't using the expensive piece of paper they worked 4+ years for).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chapter 5- The Further Education of a Gearhead: From Amateur to Professional

First of all, I like the title of this chapter. I think that it suggests that learning is a process and you don't just become a "professional" overnight. The title also correlates with a theme that I found throughout the chapter: failure.

Most people view the "failure" as a bad thing. I think that we sometimes forget it is an inherent part of the learning process. As Keith told us when we made skateboards, as much as it kills him, he lets students mess up because he knows if they do, they won't make the same mistake again. We shouldn't be penalizing students for their mistakes in learning, but helping them move forward from them. I think that with failure comes perseverance. As Crawford explained in this chapter, he struggled with fixing the 1983 Honda motorcycle, none of his prior knowledge or experiences appeared to help him at first and he needed to go through his unique (and maybe filled with too many expletives for a classroom) process of overcoming barriers in order to proceed. But, he did not give up. Luckily, he had plenty of time to see the project through from start to finish so the fact that he failed at the beginning didn't mean that he wasn't going to be able to finish the job. Failure is an important part of learning and we should be giving our learners enough time to fail, persevere/push through it, and then succeed.

I also thought that it was interesting that Crawford felt his dingy and disorganized warehouse was much more conducive to inquiry and experimentation than his fancy think tank office. We spend a lot of time working on making sure our rooms are safe and comfortable for all our learners to succeed. Obviously safety is of the utmost importance in any learning experience, but this comment made me wonder what I could do to make my classroom inspire learners and foster creativity and experimentation. Maybe it's a change in the psychical set up, maybe a change in the climate of the learning environment, maybe a little bit of both?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chapter 4: Shop Class as Soulcraft

Hello All-

I am posting chapter 4 early because I have a hectic few days and I don't want to forget. I hope that this doesn't mess anyone up...

Chapter 4: Shop Class as Soulcraft

“The Education of a Gearhead”

“Different kinds of work attract different human types, and we are lucky if we find work that is fitting.” (Pg. 72)
Isn’t this so true? I am sure you have looked at different occupations and said, “There is no way I could do that!” meanwhile, there are people that find that occupation very fitting. There are people out there that are working jobs that are not fitting for them, but they stick with it. This reminds me of the advice that you should “do what you love”.  Students should explore different kinds of work to see if they can find the work that fits them. Offering many different experiences to them in school, such as tech. ed., computer repair and programing, auto repair, culinary, etc., can help them with this process.

“…the pertinent question for him may be not what IQ he has, but whether he is, for example, careful or commanding.” (Pg. 73) This quote stood out to me because it reminded me of a book called “How Children Succeed.”  It is very distantly related, but I am going to relate it anyways. Paul Tough discovers through his research that succeeding has little to do with scores on a test, or IQ (for the most part), or what academic classes you’re involved in, or how far ahead you are compared to your peers. Being successful has a lot to do with being persistent, curious, and having character.

This chapter includes a lot of narrative stories from the author about his own experiences. The big idea I got out of his stories what how he needed to be persistent, look at all the details, and how he was motivated by his public role. He learned a lot from others, and from trial and error. He has a lot of pride in his work, and that translates into the quality in his work. This is exactly what we want from our students. In order for that to happen, the task needs to have purpose (a purpose hat students recognize) and should be share with more than just the student and the teacher. This reminds me of being transparent in the classroom. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chapter 3: Shop Class As Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford

"To Be Master of One's Own Stuff"

A couple of things came to mind as I was reading this chapter.

#1 The "Idiot Light": Lots of things in life have been simplified, maybe even over-simplified (at least to the common person). Not only do we have "service needed" and "check engine" lights in our cars, but we now have cars that will park themselves, brake if an object is in the blind spot, and start without a key in the ignition. While these are wonderful amenities for people, they take away all of the hands on skills. One of my family's close friends is the owner of Bangor Radiator. He commonly comments on how much more complicated it is to work on cars, even simply changing the oil, because of how complex cars have become.

#2 "The Problem of Technology": Going along with my first point, technology has made things easy for people, especially the children in our classrooms who have grown up with this incredible tool. Technology is incredibly beneficial, don't get me wrong, but it has also made some of the younger generation lazy (for lack of a better word). I remember during my first year of teaching, I was doing a vocabulary lesson with my LA class. Part of the activity required students to look up synonyms/antonyms for the word "cronies". As always, students used the online Miriam-Webster Dictionary. When students looked up the word, they were able to find the definition and synonyms, but it did not list any antonyms. Rather than take 2 seconds to think about an antonym for "friend", students quickly whined that there were no antonyms.

Technology can give you almost anything with the click of the button, or now the voice command, but many people use it without ever thinking how it works.  Thinking back to STI at the end of June, one of the things I remember hearing in an afternoon session is that one of the most useful skills we can teach our students is about coding. Technology isn't going away, so why not teach them how computers, cell phones, iPods, etc. work. Teach them how to fix problems, rather than relying on Best Buy or Apple, or even spending money to replace the device. If technology is going to run our lives, we should learn how to run it!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chapter 2 - Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matt Crawford

The Separation of Thinking from Doing....

Isn't this what virtual world is?  In essence I maintain 2 classrooms the real and the virtual.   I would point I am not advocating the extinction of either.  Each has a place....   as educators there is fear (especially among union members) of the teacher being replaced.  However,  I hope you found in your experience in my strand the virtual does not replace my teaching but allows me to enhance it, shape it, modify it, and isolate it for each student.  It gives the most valuable commodity of all in education... more time with my students.

The degradation of blue collar work or the alienation of the worker is what is happening is our current education systems.   Students currently work from test to test without clarification of what does that number mean?  NECAPPS, MEA, Fontus and Phinell... the test go on and on.   They are all abstract to the child.   The student because separated from the work and out come.  They don't know how the engine worked, but that it got them to school and back.  If it breaks they pay some one what ever they ask not knowing if they are being lied to or not.

Henry Ford realize "eventually it was learned the only way to get them to work harder was to play along with their imagination"

Haven't we all found this in our classes?  think of the most successful assignment, activity or lesson?
What made it work?  was it the test format? the typical lecture?  or some variation on a hands on activity.   Simple task to prove this point.  Stop think of your favorite teacher and the favorite thing you learned from them?  What did it do?

So as we read this chapter it took us through the demise of the blue and white collar leading us to the "creative economy" and the virtual economy.   Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple really actually produce very little as a real object.   Apple for example actually loses money on their iPods, iPads and iTouches.... they make millions from their content (apps, itunes)  Zing is one of the biggest gaming companies and never sells a console or game there.  (they are the makers of Facebook games like Farmville)

So....what advice would you give your student?   Go to college?  Get a trade? do both? go tech? go hands on?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Remember to get rid of blogger menu bar on your blogs

Here are some setting points.... the last video shows you how to take away the bar on a newly created blog.  
  • Making Blog

  • Posting Pictures to Blog Post

  • Changing Blog Settings

  • Editing page

This is the code.... you past
#navbar-iframe {


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mr. CEU's Intro/Ch.1 Discussion Starter

Two points from what I read stood out for me personally. The first was how the author moved from his office job and started working as a motorcycle mechanic. My interests correspond with his, as I've considered looking into becoming an Electrician and also into tinkering in Small Engine repair on the side, just coming home from school, heading to the garage and problem solving that machine. But I lack the skill or courage to so, especially with a family relying on me for supper. And at 40? But, I never felt so relaxed as during the Summers when I was landscaping, designing and sculpting people's overgrown yards. I tried to start it up here, but the demand for it seems limited in this area.

The other point I found interesting was how more and more schools are looking to push kids into college and phasing out industrial arts. I went to high school in a affluent suburb of Portland and that's exactly how it was. The only students who were ever encouraged to look into the trades or craft fields were those students who didn't do as well in academic classes. That's too bad because as I said above, had I ever been introduced to a trade, I likely would have gone in that direction. But, because the pressure from the community was to push as many students as possible into college, we were discouraged from those options. And this was back in the late 80's.