Purpos/ed – time to learn

Posted on February 24th, 2011 in thoughts | 17 Comments »

Purposed Badge - text "I added my voice"

This is my 500 words for Purpose/d. Another wonderful project from a group of educators looking to inspire, create debate and eventually change. I’m supposed to read the posts before mine and respond to some of the points. I’ve read some but not all, and I’ll use that as my segway to my 500 words, because I just didn’t have time to read them all. And time is surely the killer for much change and innovation in education. There’s precious time to think, to innovate and be creative, and that goes for teachers and students.


In the UK, when we learn to be teachers, we don’t learn about pedagogical theories beyond a brief look at learning styles. In a 36 week practical based course there just isn’t time. When I did my MA the largest revelation was that all the things I did anyway in the classroom had a theory attached to them. But good teachers don’t always need a theory, they just do it because it works for them or their students, it just seems right to them. And a good teacher knows what makes it right in one situation doesn’t make it right for every teacher or every class.


There’s never enough time in the curriculum for every subject. Recently I’ve seen online campaigns to save PE, RE, ICT and Computing from being removed or marginalised in the UK. Campaigns led by specialist teachers and national subject associations may seem self serving, but they do it because they care. After all remove sports and kids may become unhealthy, remove RE and kids may become intolerant, remove ICT and kids may become unskilled. I can’t disagree with the passion of these teachers who know the ‘Purpose’ and the benefits of what they teach.


I’ve been out of the classroom now for 6 months. People ask me if I miss it and how life is different. There are many differences but the biggest one is not having the guilt on your shoulders because there isn’t enough time to do everything for your students. Teachers learn to live with many kinds of guilt; the guilt of not preparing enough, the guilt of not marking enough, the guilt of ignoring a school policy, the guilt of straying from the scheme of work, the guilt of setting too much homework. What is the ‘Purpose’ of all these things we worry about?


Our education system will improve greatly when teachers can remove the guilt from their shoulders and take pride in their skills and achievements.


I subscribe to the terribly liberal but certainly not revolutionary philosophy that different students and different teachers have different needs. We need different routes, different pathways and different systems open to everyone to enable each learner and each teacher to find their own way. There’s never enough time to teach everything and one, just one, purpose of education must be to give students the skills and the passion to learn and thrive in their own interests in their own time.


What is the overall ‘purpose’ and how do we get there? I don’t know but if we are to find it we need to give teachers the room to innovate, experiment and improve and we need to give students room to innovate, experiment and improve. And on that note I’ll leave you with a video of a discussion I led on this topic at the recent Collabor8 4Change event.

As promised in my earlier blog post “Why Twitter is good for teachers – thanks to…” here is the video and some brief written tips, on Twitter for teachers. This video was part of a longer presentation I gave to an international group of teachers at the World ORT Wingate Seminar 2011 on Digital Content Creation for learning.


www.twitter.com
Twitter is not just a website for celebrity gossip, it’s a constant stream of information from the people you choose to follow. If you choose to follow teachers or people with similar interests to you, you will get a stream of information relevant to your interests.

I follow about 1500 people, most teachers and educators and some with other interests.
Following someone doesn’t mean I agree with them always, in fact I follow some people who have very different opinions to me so I get to hear different perspectives.

Twitter helps me in many ways

1. As a supportive community – people are always williing to give their support or opinions when necessary.
2. As a great source of new websites, resources and ideas – People are always posting links to great new resources, blog posts and personal experiences.
3. As a way of sharing my practice, ideas and blog posts
4. As a personal search engine – if you ask for help – people normally respond with help or ideas – though it’s not instantaneous and you sometimes need to ask a few times.

A good place to start is by signing up, having a look at my twitter profile www.twitter.com/nstone and seeing who I follow and who follows me. If they seem interesting click to follow them, you could even send them a brief message to say hi and to tell them why they look interesting.
You can also look at twitter lists to see who they are following. Users sometimes group people they follow into lists, you can see them on their profile. These lists can be great ways to find interesting people fast.

If you are a new user and scared about privacy you may wish to choose a private account – then only people you give permission to can see your twitter messages. Going public means anyone can see your messages, but it also means anyone can help you and opens your tweets up to a much wider potential audience. If you’re nervous start private and you can always change later, even for a private account, as with any online communication, don’t assume confidentiality of anything you write!

Good luck

This list of Top 10 E-safety tips for parents (and teachers) was originally put together by Marc Shoffren of Clore Shalom school and updated by us both for a session we did together on Limmud conference. I think it’s a great resource as it’s really simple and each point has a web resource. It also treats the internet as a learning opportunity to be embraced rather than a danger to avoided. If you find it useful let us know.

You can download the document here to print or edit Limmud e-safety Top Ten Tips for Parents

Top Ten e-safety Tips for Parents

  • Discover the internet together: www.getsafeonline.org contains advice about firewalls, spyware and antivirus protection as well as how to protect your child.
  • Agree a framework for sensible internet use at home: www.childnet-int.org has some good suggestions for this.
  • Discuss disclosing personal information: www.chatdanger.com is a site for teenagers that gives advice on how to stay safe while chatting online.
  • Explore the issues involved in meeting an e-pal face to face: www.thinkuknow.co.uk has advice for children about this.
  • Teach critical questioning skills when looking at websites: http://web.archive.org/web/20080430094706/www.quick.org.uk/menu.htm has a useful checklist to assess whether a website is likely to be credible. QUICK stands for the Quality Information Checklist. (nb the link takes you to an archive of the site which is otherwise not available)
  • Don’t be too critical of your child’s exploration: It is natural for children to be curious about off-limits material. If they come across inappropriate material use this as an opening to discuss the content with them, and perhaps make rules for this kind of activity. Encourage your children to use child appropriate search engines, such as www.askkids.com.
  • Report illegal material: www.ceop.gov.uk is the website of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre, a police agency tackling child abuse on the internet. It includes a unique facility that enables parents and young people to make reports of actual or attempted abuse on line.
  • Encourage good netiquette: www.transl8it.com is a fun website which translates some of the language used in chatrooms, instant messaging and texting into normal English.
  • Know your child’s net use: Let your child show you which websites that they like visiting and what it is that they do there. Try some of the sites yourself to see what they are experiencing. To explore with them try http://kidsmart.org.uk/
  • Remember the positives: Embrace the internet, it’s a great thing and it’s here to stay. To remind yourself of some of the positives watch the Did You Know presentation, available at http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/

3 Simple Rules for Kids:

  • Stick with your friends. Have your teens limit their privacy settings to Only Friends. That’ll restrict who sees your kids’ information, including pictures, videos, and applications they use.
  • Keep private information private. When filling out their bios, teens can leave fields blank. There is no need for your teens to post their phone numbers or addresses. These features are optional and aren’t required to create a Facebook account.
  • Don’t let your information get away from you. If your teens haven’t restricted who can share their information, their personal data can end up in the hands of marketers. Also, advise your teens to be on the lookout for personal information requests — like their birthday or music playlist — from third parties. And make sure your teens uncheck the public search results box so people can’t find their Facebook page through a Google search.