Oh man. Duh.

Ever had a thought come to you that just makes you say, “Oh man.  Duh.”  Just had that happen thanks to Denis Sheeran.

He wrote an fantastic blogpost about Fidget Spinners.  Basically, he was seeing tweets and comments about how these must be banned.  Well….that wasn’t flying for Denis, so he set out to share how they could be utilized by kids and teachers in math.  Brilliant!

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Here comes my, “Oh man.  Duh.” moment.

Is our first response to something that grabs kids’ utter attention to say NO to it?

Anyone who has been around education for any length of time has seen this before. Some weird thing pops up that kids just go nuts about.  And lots of schools immediately shut it down, ban it, make it a discipline issue.

Why?  It’s easy?  The thing is dangerous?  The thing will distract from other learning? Maybe.

Might we change our first thought to, “Boy howdy.  Kids really are digging this thing. Can we figure out how to capture that level of engagement and tie it to some authentic learning?”

Like Denis did with math and Fidget Spinners.  I bet we can.  I know we can.

We just need to take a breath, pause, and have a different first thought.

Oh man.  Duh.

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A moral imperative.

Started reading Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation by Don Wettrick. Right off the bat hit this quote, 

“We do our students a disservice when we prepare them for a world that no longer exists and fail to empower them with the skills and abilities they will need to navigate rough and shifting seas. We don’t need students who can fill in bubbles on a multiple-choice test; we need students who can create, innovate, connect, and collaborate. We need students who can identify and solve complex, real-world problems. Changing the way we educate students is not only necessary…it’s a moral imperative.”

A couple days before, I came upon this video.  What is 21st Century Education?

Well pretty obviously, these two ideas feed each other.

Here’s the rub.  Our schools, administrators, and teachers still have to operate in the world of ‘filling in bubbles.’  Through no fault of their own.  It’s our present system. They know that kids need opportunities to create, innovate, connect, and collaborate. These words include 3 of the famous 4 Cs.  The missing C is ‘critically think’.  The ‘fill in the bubbles’ schools are still schools of distribution.  Information is handed out and then retrieved.  Questions are asked to which there are already known answers. Absolutely zero opportunity, nor in fact, need to create, innovate, connect, and collaborate.  The opposite of this idea is schools of discovery.  Giving kids the opportunities to create new answers to problems.  Innovate.  Collaborate.

I didn’t list the entire title of Wettrick’s great book.  Here’s the entire title.

Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level

The ‘20%’ part is an idea that talks about giving kids time to do all of the things in a school of discovery. Create, innovate, connect, critically think, and collaborate. Obviously one can’t turn the entire school day or year over to this notion.  But lots of places have made the decision to let kids explore and grow, aside from the demands of the bubbles.

This website is a good place to start.

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Kind of a cool idea.