My blogging has been down lately. Partly it’s because of the time it takes to prepare for upcoming work, and partly it is a growing selfish desire to steal back more time for myself. But the great thing about the traveling that I do is that I get to listen. For instance in Calgary, I got to listen to by Dr. Dennis Sumara, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Calgary. I wrote about his talk in my last blog post, but one of the ideas that he shared that struck me was that the way that we teach and run schools seems to assume that people are logical. He said that instead of logical, we are analogical.
Owing to my dense mind and inability to hear clearly, it took me a moment to figure out that he was playing with the word analog and not antilogical.
He then gave us some time to talk about that idea with our tables, where we pushed it even further. My suggestion was that logic, in instruction, makes the teachers’ and the curriculum developers’ jobs easier. That’s probably an exaggeration, and that’s probably not a bad thing in such conversations. Exaggeration breaks paradigms. The truth is probably that logic also helps us to learn. “This is true because that was true and those were not true.”
Perhaps it’s where we apply what we’ve learned that the analogical comes in. We need to factor into our learning experiences people’s real-world tendency to make and work with personal connections, so that the learning gets applied, not just reported.
The other cool thing that I heard was while riding on the wrong side of the road in New Zealand. There’s something about that sort of tension that makes you hyper alert, even at 1:00 in the morning. Rob Callaghan, a principal in Christchurch, had picked me up at the airport and was driving me to my hotel. We were talking about the upcoming conference and he mentioned that Stuart Hale, from Auckland, was working with his faculty on using Apple’s Keynote software.
“So why a special emphasis on Keynote,” I asked.
Well it seems that they are switching to an e-portfolio style of assessment for students. Now I’ve only recently started digging deeper into Keynote and uncovering some of it’s more dramatic features. But any special practicality to e-portfolios did not intuitively come to mind. Then, Calahan told me that they were going to start holding more frequent and regular parent-teacher conferences, which will include the child, and that these conferences will be led by the learner using Keynote to present what he/she has learned, and their reflections on their learning.
This one policy change seems to fit in to so much of what is sense is missing in American education. What do you think?