Learning, thinking and computers

I have been thinking about learning and the role that technology can play in helping students learn in a better, more varied and interesting way. I want students to learn to thinkand to have the skills to work through problems when they face them. I want them to have a range of problem-solving techniques and I believe that technology can deliver many more  of these techniques than the traditional classroom teaching.

TEDtalks are such a good source of inspiration. A talk about learning (What we think we know) was posted back in Sept 2008. Jonathan Drori , an expert on culture and educational media, looks at what we know/have learnt. He begins by giving four questions to the audience as a starting point to explore how we get ideas in our heads and how difficult it is to shake ideas once they are there.

He also looks at some “bad practices” that only reinforce incorrect ideas and offers some better ways of helping students learn correctly. One part of the talk about learning and testing:

Poor teaching actually does more harm than good. In this country, and in Britain, magnetism is understood better by children before they’ve been to school than afterwards, OK? Same for gravity, two concepts, so it’s — which is quite humbling, as a — you know, if you’re a teacher, and you look before and after, that’s quite worrying. They do worse in tests afterwards, after the teaching. And we collude, we design tests, or at least in Britain, so that people pass them. Right? And governments do very well. They pat themselves on the back. OK? We collude…..

Alan Kay, in May 2008, under the title A powerful idea about ideas, talked about better techniques for teaching young people by using computers to illustrate experiences. He begins at looking at what we understand, then goeson to look at simplicity versus complexity, example of good teaching techniques and argues for kids experimenting and how computers can help to create approachable methods of teaching students in ways that are more simple and intuitive. Another very passionate and articulate professional giving an inspiring talk.

Another blog post I was reading was on Mike’s Raumati edublog and it concerned a presentation on Prof. Art Costa’s philosophy about thinking (and the Habits of mind). I was really taken with these five points on thinking:

  1. Learning to think
  2. Thinking to learn
  3. Thinking about our thinking
  4. Thinking together
  5. Thinking long term and short term

The post finished with these final two questions posed for all educators …

  1. How does what we do help our students become the kind of people we hope they will be?
  2. Why are these things considered essential?

So I will continue on my reflections about what I can do to help the students in my school. I will continue to try to come up with solutions that I can share with colleagues, in the hope that it will help them to develop new and alternative techniques that will better equip our students for life.

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3 Responses

  1. there is nothing in the world I enjoy more than learning. In fact, i’d rather be learning now!

  2. Just happened to pass by. The four questions in Jonathan’s talk really makes me think how much one might have to unlearn and re-learn. As they say, it is important to unlearn and at times look at the things from a child’s view.

  3. Great post thx for sharing

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