Dreaming of what can be

It’s the break at TEDxDenverED and I’m hungry. I didn’t have time to eat today, being on the verge of being late just about all day long. But I’ve gotten some nourishment here at TDE. There have been some excellent, amazing and inspiring presentations. It’s surprising how fast 18 minutes can go by.

But I would like to make one observation here, which I tried to make to the speaker, Brian Cosby, in the hall, during the break. But he was way to distracted by all of the people who wanted to shake his hand.

I can’t go into a lot of detail here, but Cosby said something early in his presentation that really struck me. After describing the lack of knowledge that his 4th graders (mostly poverty-locked and transient student) had about their world and their local geography, he asked, “How can you imagine what might be, if you don’t know what is?

This was followed by an inspiring story of how his students started blogging, making connections with other blogging classrooms around the world and then generated a collection of comments from their new global community, comments about their wishes for their greater and local communities.

At the same time, they decided to make a hot air balloon, and then equip it with a camera, and a payload, to carry that mass of world-wide wishes. Brian included a moving video of the launch — and watching the event, it occurred to me that he was demonstrating that to know what is, you can’t just be taught it. You must connect with it.

I’ve seen Mr. Cosby present before, and I wasn’t expecting to be surprised. Thank you for surprising me, Brian.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

5 thoughts on “Dreaming of what can be”

  1. Such wisdom! This hits a spot of truth for me. So as I approach British Literature, I need to have my students somehow connect to the world from which it comes. Hmmm….

  2. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your quote “to know what is, you can’t be taught it. You must connect with it”.
    It is an inspiration to know that students are being given the opportunity to be taught, and also the opportunity to connect with the real-world about what is being taught. Many students need these connections in order to learn and understand what and why they are learning what they are learning.

    Brian’s quote was also of interest to me. It just proves that technology is a great resource to connect students to others all over the world. Technology is a great learning tool and as educators, we should provide these opportunities for our students to “make those connections”!!

  3. David, I find your thoughts inspiring–because, of course, I connect with them!

    I need these reminders that I need to modify my instruction so my students are connecting and doing. And, if possible, I think this is even more important with my lower economic status students. Students whose parents have more money and more education will often do the learning activities they need to do to learn–even if these are boring, static activities–because that’s what their family culture expects of them. I think some of my bilingual parents, some of whom didn’t finish elementary school, see school as kind of a quaint, isolated time in childhood that’s not of vital importance in the long run.

    Thanks again.

  4. I really enjoy reading your struckness. I think that there are a lot of time when we ask students to reflect on what is not possible to conceptualize is setting them up for failure. I even think that we as educators sometimes don’t know where we are.

    I am thinking that we don’t know where we are with education because all of our continuing ed. classes teach us to be divergent and interesting, when the existence of standardized testing asks us to make sure students learn this. Without knowing where we are with RTI, inclusion, differentiation…etc, how are we to imagine a world where students can willingly learn and think freely, aided in their creativity by the teachers, and not hindered?

  5. I was one of the lucky ones who actually got to speak to Brian for a few minutes during the break. I was honored to receive an invitation to attend TEDxDenverEd and was very excited when I found out Brian was one of the presenters. I also teach fourth graders and have followed Brian’s blog for some time. I have learned so much from him.

    His statement “How can you imagine what might be, if you don’t know what is?” sums up my thoughts precisely. I asked my students to name a state in each of the regions we would study during the year, and the answers (if I got any) were usually wrong. When I began Skyping with classrooms around the country, my students finally started to really understand the geography they are supposed to learn in social studies. They loved the fact that they were being interviewed about their region and they had an authentic reason to learn about their area. They were becoming experts on their geography and also wanted to learn about the geography of the classes with which we connected.

    I hope to collaborate with Brain during the coming school year and we spoke about it briefly during the break. He is an inspiring, innovative educator. Thanks, Brian.

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