More on education

School Matters had a link to an interesting site: Investigating Systems.  I was intrigued, so I decided to check it out.  I downloaded the document and started to read it.  One of the first pages talks about the big ideas behind the document. They are:

  • The future will be more complicated than the present. Old solutions won’t solve new problems.
  • To solve problems, you need to make sense of the real world.
  • In the real world, everything connects. You’ll need to understand “systems.”
  • Because they’re the creators of all sciences and all arts, human societies are the most important systems you can study.
  • Making sense of systems requires organized thought. School subjects aren’t very good organizers.
  • Thinking about ways to organize thought improves how you do it.
  • For sense-making purposes, the real, everyday world is a better “textbook” than textbooks about it.
  • Everything you learn should be useful, right here, right now.
  • Writing makes you think. (Keep a journal.)
  • Dialog makes you think. (Work with others.)
  • We’re not going to tell you much. We’re just going to give you a series of things to do and let you teach yourself how to make more sense of systems.

Marion Brady                               Howard Brady

A lot of that echoes what Tony Wagner said in Rigor Redefined.  What I found especially interesting is that Marion Brady began teaching in 1952.  This reminded me of something David Warlick said in a video I watched recently,  Beyond the Web 2.0 Hype: Focusing on What Really Matters.  At one point about 63 minutes into the video, he says that he sees older teachers doing a lot of the really innovative things, more so than younger teachers.  He attributes it to differences in teacher education.  I am not so sure.  I have talked to teacher educators about the fact that they teach students these innovative techniques but the students go out as student teachers and teach the way they were taught or the way their cooperating teacher teaches.  So maybe we can’t lay the blame at the feet of the teacher ed programs.  But I think Warlick’s point is a good one: older teachers aren’t quite the negative influence on schools that we sometimes portray them to be.

And Marion Brady is a good example of that.  He started teaching before I entered school.  But he has some insights that seem not only contemporary but extremely innovative, as well.

I am planning to study the Investigating Systems document.  Care to join me?


2 thoughts on “More on education

  1. “For sense-making purposes, the real, everyday world is a better “textbook” than textbooks about it.

    Everything you learn should be useful, right here, right now.”

    The disdain of textbooks is disingenuous. The “real, everyday world” is big, chaotic, and distracting; you need some way of focusing and organizing in order to begin thinking about it. Textbooks are not the only way of doing this, but not inherently worse than any other way.

    And I could not disagree more with the assertion that learning should only be practical. Learning is good for its own sake. Otherwise we reduce education to nothing more job training; such an existence would be too meaningless to contemplate. And who knows what knowledge will useful later, anyway?

    Thinking about this site within the system of modern American education might be a good thing, looking at its alliances. Despite its rhetoric, I get a whiff of anti-intellectualism which worries me.

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