Saturday, October 30, 2010

oh dear bloggy mcbloggersons...

I have neglected this poor ole bloggy in the face of a giant tidal wave of SCHOOL. Exhaustimacating and awesome in equal parts - work school and life have been keeping me super busy.

Things are still interesting - have discovered the work of Kieran Egan and his merry band of Imaginative Educators. That was super exciting, and I was staying up late into the nights reading his revisioning of schools and cognitive tools and super cool school transformation instead of reading politics and literacy and families textbooks...well that came back to bite me in the butt, as midterms crashed down up me, and I scrambled to prepare. Truth be told, I did pretty good, juggling assignments, scholarship applications, exams and meetings with the research team, as well as handling an incredibly festive Canadian thanksgiving where we made our yearly Mount Vesuvius tofu volcano. This year, my dearest friend Andrea was here and we took it up a notch and did a whole diorama, with the tofu volcano erupting mashed potato lava covered in cranberry sauce, flowing down onto a forest of steamed broccoli with raisin people fleeing the destruction.

So - I've been a little busy. Our sweet friend Nicole took a bunch of photos for us, which are pretty wonderful.

I must say, school this year is a crazy rollercoaster of onslaught compared to the last two years. However, I'm eating it up like dessert, because I am a nutbar.
I wanted to show you this. 
Little posts of teacher inspiration.

I have been thinking a lot about engagement recently - how to foster it, what are the key ingredients...kind of exciting as it feels like something I want to sink my teeth into and think about for a good long time.

Ok. I will post more regularly - things should quiet down a little bit. It's time to say goodnight, as I've been wrestling with a paper about private money in public schools all day. Enough - sleep sweet and see you soon again.

Nerd out!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

gifts and wrestling

These days, I am consistently amazed and grateful at the wonderful incredible quality of my life. I am head-over-heels with my crazy, human situation.

First - school is awesome. I have 5 full-time fascinating courses, all with really engaging instructors and thoroughly interesting and challenging material. Second - my new job as a research assistant is kind of like the coolest amusement park ride, mixed with a collaborative project and some fabulous philosophy. The project that I'm involved with is part of a much larger one called the Experiential Design and Gaming Environments Lab, a cross-disciplinary collaboration involving folks from three different universities, from a whack of different sectors (technology, DIY, social economics, gaming, new media, early childhood ed & development, hacking, disabilities studies, etc, etc, etc). Everytime I go to work I hang out with exceedingly smart people and have wicked-cool, INSPIRING conversations. My work there is hilarious, and has so far involved learning to play Farmville (to explore social media), having in-depth conversations about co-construction and autonomous learning (to work out what our themes are for the project I was hired to work on), organizing cardboard (for the adaptive design lab and workshops), and playing with (learning how to use) an off-the-shelf brainwave monitoring device that Dr. Jason (the prof who hired me and a pretty awesome amazing guy) got off the internet to study biomapping. So many brackets in that last paragraph!

It feels like there are so many situations and conversations and people who are like gifts in my life right now! So, my brain and heart are being regularly kicked into overdrive, but in a good way. I have noticed that my critical thinking has picked up it's pace, too. I have started to wonder about school and teaching and the edu-crisis that is smacking North America upside the heads. I have thought about teaching styles and why I love direct instruction (it's like candy to me) but don't think it's an effective way of helping folks learn...and that's just it. I have started to think about helping people learn, instead of teaching people. That's a wonderful, fundamental change that feels really good.

Anyways - I wish I could post the gazillion things that are rushing around in my head right now - things like:
- how can we create learning environments that foster autonomous learning in a school system that is so authoritarian you have to ask to go to the bathroom?
- what is the role of technology in learning, now that technology is becoming more and more inseperable from everyday life for a lot of people on the planet?
- who has access to good educational opportunities, and what can we do about the folks who don't?
- do schools work? Teachers sure do - HARD! So what's creating the oncoming educational crisis?
- imagine teaching kids in early learning environments that asking questions was one of the most important things they could do - how would that change a lot of things about school, society, inequality etc?
- with technology becoming so prevalent - what are schools going to look like in the future?
- how can I make the greatest playground in the world?
- games and learning - bringing play back into education, don't just stop playing once school starts...
- does there have to be a struggle between 'natural' and 'technological'?
- authentic learning, collaborative innovation, asking questions - how do you inspire people do deeply engage with these things?

These and another million things are pummeling my brain. I feel so lucky to be wrestling with it all...

Nerd out for now