Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Maxine Greene, my love

via ATA Blog:
An excerpt from How Do We Think About Our Craft?, an essay by Maxine Greene published by Teachers College, Columbia University.
"Gradually becoming aware of all this, we are beginning to recognize that every young person must be encountered as a center of consciousness, even as he or she is understood to be a participant in an identifiable social world. Each one may be encountered as a being who is at once a distinctive individual and someone whose consciousness opens out to the common, an intersubjective world in which he or she is inextricably involved."

Learning Love

Thanks to Michael Wiggins of the ATA Blog for sharing this quote about love!
In his book, The Art of Loving, philosopher Erich Fromm writes:
"The first step is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering.

Could it be that only those things are considered worthy of being learned with which one can earn money or prestige, and that love, which "only" profits the soul, but is profitless in the modern sense, is a luxury we have no right to spend much energy on?"

Emotions, Memory, and Learning

I was recently skimming a book on what teachers should know about how the brain works. (I need to find the title--I know I wrote it down somewhere.) The part that really stood out to me (even though it makes total sense) is that we are more likely to remember something/put it into our memory if there is emotion tied to it. We are likely to remember that with which we have an emotional connection. Duh.

Still, this makes me think about how the arts can be so crucial in learning. Experiencing a process drama about Ruby Bridges' and school integration vs. reading about it. Listening to or learning music from the Civil Rights area. Problem solving using Forum Theatre. All of these evoke emotions as a tool and a way of learning, and an avenue to remembering.

Here's a quick read on Educational Leadership: Brain-Friendly Learning for Teachers.

Our brain pays more attention to stimuli and events that are accompanied by emotions. We remember the best and worst things that happen to us while forgetting emotionally neutral events. Do you remember what you ate for lunch two weeks ago last Thursday? Probably not, unless it was a special occasion or the food made you sick. In either case, the accompanying emotions enabled you to remember it.

How we feel about a learning situation often affects attention and memory more quickly than what we think about it. In most adolescents, the brain region that processes emotions (the limbic area) is fully operational, whereas the regions responsible for thinking, reflecting, and controlling emotional reactions (located in the prefrontal cortex) are still developing. This is why middle school students overtly display emotions inappropriately in the classroom (through pained sighs, rolling eyes, and blank looks).

And another: The Role of Emotions in Learning. This one talks mainly about the way that fear/joy can affect our ability to learn and open up avenues to learning.

Here's an article on Memory, Music and Emotion in Learning.


Great, great, great Susan Engel & NY Times.

So important to recognize that what we teach and the way we teach is not aligned to what we know about child development.
Our current educational approach — and the testing that is driving it — is completely at odds with what scientists understand about how children develop during the elementary school years and has led to a curriculum that is strangling children and teachers alike.

In order to design a curriculum that teaches what truly matters, educators should remember a basic precept of modern developmental science: developmental precursors don’t always resemble the skill to which they are leading. For example, saying the alphabet does not particularly help children learn to read. But having extended and complex conversations during toddlerhood does. Simply put, what children need to do in elementary school is not to cram for high school or college, but to develop ways of thinking and behaving that will lead to valuable knowledge and skills later on.

So what should children be able to do by age 12, or the time they leave elementary school? They should be able to read a chapter book, write a story and a compelling essay; know how to add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers; detect patterns in complex phenomena; use evidence to support an opinion; be part of a group of people who are not their family; and engage in an exchange of ideas in conversation. If all elementary school students mastered these abilities, they would be prepared to learn almost anything in high school and college.