Category Archives: Education

Reading Yaacov Hecht

On February the 3rd, in the great section of La Contra La Vanguardia, it caught our attention the visible headline: “Every child is a genius at something if we help him to be so.” The sentence is from Yaacov Hecht, educator, Governments advisor in education and … dyslexic.

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Hecht talks about his own failure at school, given the difficulty of achieving the required objectives because of their handicaps to read and write. However, despite its limitations in this regard he knows how we should educate children. He understands how is the result of enhancing their skills and hobbies to get them geniuses lacking to focus attention solely on what they fail to do as well as the others or on what they do not like to study. He knows that the objective must be to form them for self-employment, innovation and networking with other peers.

The interview contains statements as juicy as that ‘PISA reports are uniformizing tests that fosters a school that educates for the past’, which utility is reduced if we want to train children for the future; and others that put the willies: ‘PISA does not prepare for self-employment, but for the unemployment’.

Preparing children for the future is to train them not to enter the obsolete corporate hollow cells, where knowledge flows through these cells up and down as they compete to move up without providing value to companies. That does not create wealth. Nowadays what is asked to be hired in a leading company, Hecht says, is: what you can do and how you learned it?, what you are great in and what you do better than anyone? Giving our students tools to answer these questions is to prepare them for the future.

The value of frustration

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We have too spoiled children in developed Countries? We know how to say no? What we, adults experience when we stay in a NO with the kids we educate?

The acceptance of non-immediate compliance of our goals helps us to build strategies to advance our vital interests; in front of a NO it is both possible: we abandon (maybe it was not so ‘necessary’ the object of desire), or we have to recompose our puzzle pieces to get to where we had set.

Do not be afraid to NO.

Pedagogy is king

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We would all agree to the asseveration; what should be reviewed are pedagogical practices if our goal is that future generations have the ‘skills of the XXIst century’ or, translated, that children can be happy despite the uncertain environment where they will live, so, they have to be able to solve their lives.

But the tricky part of the sentence is ‘good’, adjective that brings us to a value judgment: good, according to the criteria of who? I… almost all the teachers I know are ‘good’. Although we all understand the meaning of the statement, we should begin to step in detail in the speech, it is important to reach a consensus on what kind of guide we wish for children, because it is our responsibility as educators, not to look elsewhere.

Customized Education: Logan Laplante case

A flexible personalized education, which suits the interests and abilities of each child, that enhances his talent. Would be the ideal of any society: the implementation of a method of individualized instruction, suitable to train experts in diverse fields and to prevent that common students frustration. And yet, our current standardized and rigid educational systems, can not be further apart from the concept.

Occasionally some voices arise in this regard, making us think. There are cases that show us another possible kind of education. Logan Laplante is one of them: a boy, 13 years old, who left school and began to study at home. Thus he got what was completely impossible in school: progress at his own pace, with high motivation and depending on his needs and concerns. Results are spectacular: Logan explains it in this TED conference, which he structures around a statement: what a child really wants is that when growing be happy and healthy, and his education should focus on this two axes. Other responses that the education system may give are addressed on what adults want to hear.

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Creativity, so difficult to apply…

Creativity, one of the greatest challenges and one of the great hopes of every business to help with her cousin, innovation, to achieve Company’s goals: to grow the business, export, bring to market new products, exit the precarious situation that caused the crisis …

We increasingly know that the future of our businesses depends largely on enhancing creativity. Creativity applied across the fields and practiced by all employees.

But things are not going as they should to move in this direction. The data from a survey conducted by Getty Images iStock in Advertising Week 2013 in New York are significant:

  • 48% of creative thought that levels of creativity in their industry have stagnated or declined.
  • 23% spend less than two hours a day to create.
  • 70% would spend more time on improving their creativity.
  • 60 % say that over the past year had creative ideas, which could not materialize due to lack of funding, lack of time or both.

 

True: there is no money to invest, no time to lose, sometimes we can’t found support in higher spheres; but there is also another problem: much as we talk about the benefits of creativity in many cases still have not really been internalized. It is a problem of education.

Child hands painted in colorful paints ready for hand prints

Child hands painted in colorful paints ready for hand prints

We have seen in a revealing TED video in which a Korean writer explains why we have to start being artists… Immediately! As children, he says, all of us are artists. But we grow and feel obliged to socialize to be integrated in our environment, to meet the standards, not to do what we should not to do. And by the way we let aside innate abilities that, in adulthood, would be extremely useful, not only to perform art but to be creative.

If, as children, they had let us to create as we wished, if we had been educated in more open basic principles, if we had been able to think, act and express without hindrance…  Would today import the lack of money, lack of time or lack of support ? Or would we keep on creation despite all the obstacles, because creativity would be embedded in our culture and our mentality?

Young-ha Kim , Korean writer, believes that there is still time to fix the mess. Let’s be artists again.
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Potential geniuses

Originally published on the blog of Connecting Brains.

We know we should not judge others based on preconceived criteria. It is political correctness. Apply our prejudices to others is a theoretical highly reprehensible practice, but to which all of us express an unequivocal trend … right?

But, why are we supposed not to do it? Why even many educators warn against putting labels that affect children? Simply because in doing so we are preventing the proper development of a series of latent capacities, and this implies a serious risk to thwart the personalities and talents of losing valuable.

A revealing model: Did you know…?

  • Did you know that Thomas Edison, inventor of the electricity and with over 1,000 patents to his credits studied at home with his mother help, because he had been dropout from school?
  • Did you know what John Gurdon’s (recently Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded) teachers said, at the elitist school of Eton?: “You do not have any chance to study a specialty. It would be a waste of time for him and for his teachers as well”.
  • Did you know that Evariste Galois, modern algebra father, suspended twice the entrance exam to the Polytechnic School of Paris?
  • Did you know that the “Encyclopedia of bad boys and rebels reached geniuses” by Jean -Bernard Pouy, Serge Bloch and Anne Blanchard, just includes a female name?: Agatha Christie, the queen of crime fiction.
  • Did you know that physicist Stephen Hawking did not learn to read until age eight?

 

Yet another example: we read a few weeks ago in El Confidencial an article entitled ““Smarter than Einstein, a child seen by his mother”. This is the case of an autistic child who was said he would never learn to read and hopefully would be “capable of tying shoelaces at 16″. Thanks to the perseverance of his mother, who decided to enhance the natural inclination that observed in children towards mathematics, today, at 14, is considered one of the great geniuses of this century.

Surely you’ve heard any other curious case. Potential Geniuses that once have been considered duffer or incompetent. Would you like to share cases with us?

Schools in the cloud: a new way of learning

Originally published on the blog of Connecting Brains.

What if we would install a computer in a place they have never seen one, we started it on and we left?

Sugata Mitra did the experiment and named it “the hole in the wall”. He installed a computer in a poor neighbourhood of New Delhi, in India, one meter from the ground. When some children passed through there -children that hardly went to school and did not speak English-, asked what it was, he said he did not know and left. He repeated the operation in different parts of the country.

Soon after, children had become expert surfing Internet, downloaded files, had enough learned English to manage computers without problems, taught each other … and even they said they needed a faster processor and a mousse again.

What was intended to demonstrate this experiment?

“My wish is to help shape the future of education helping children around the world to develop their innate sense to question things and to cooperate”, says Sugata Mitra.

Clearly the education system as we know it today doesn’t motivate children and nor fosters their creativity, but, on the contrary, tends to nullify it. Traditional methods, based in uniformed learning, tests in which they disgorge content and punishment to failure, no longer work.

In a world in which anything we want to know we can find it in two minutes, it is necessary to devise a non-threatening model for children, to stimulate their intelligence and to invite them to discover what they really want to learn.

What does Mitra propose?

His project is the School in the cloud, and he won the 2013 TED prize of one million dollars. Involves the construction of a learning laboratory, physically settled in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures with the help of an adult online mediator, based on the principles of commitment and cooperation.

At School in the cloud, working cores are SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment), self-organizing systems in which a structure develops without explicit intervention from outside.

These involve communities, parents, schools and others to flourish worldwide SOLEs and get to learn how to change the learning process imposed on children.

What needs to change the system?

To 1,000 million children, we need 100 million online mediators, 10 million SOLEs, USD 180,000 million and 10 years. Mitra says that with these resources we could change everything. And finally we could achieve on tapping that big capital we have in the imagination and the immense learning capacity of children.

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The world we explore

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Everybody is a genius

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