The physical fitness analogy is a good one, in that cognitive enhancement requires the engagement in a variety of activities, those activities must be novel, adaptive and challenging-which is why computer-based programs can be helpful. But even at a more basic level, what matters is being engaged with life, continually exposed to stimulating activities, always trying to get out of our comfort zones, doing our best at whatever we are doing. A major typical misconception is that there is only one general intelligence to care about. In reality, we have many different cognitive abilities, such as attention, memory, language, reasoning, and more, so it makes sense to have different programs designed to train and improve each of them.
These views make a strong case for learning environments in which both students and teachers are exploring new avenues for communication and collaboration. It supports the idea that rather than simply doing “school as usual,” human beings learn best when there is novelty and challenge in the learning environment. Anyone who has taught K-12 students for any length of time understands the importance of classroom routines, especially for some students. Routines and tradition, however, should not entirely direct the day.
As an adult, think about the reasons you enjoy reading and sharing information in the blogosphere. The opportunity to learn about a new tool, turn over a new or old idea in a novel way, or make a connection you hadn’t experienced before are all compelling reasons to read, comment on, and write blog posts. The students we teach are no different. Rather than oversimplify the world into scenarios with four possible multiple choice answers, we need to embrace both the complexity and the novelty offered by many aspects of our digital learning environment.
The predominance of FEAR in our classrooms, as well as in U.S. society in general today on a variety of fronts, is not conducive to learning. Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s observation about fear and schools, shared by David Wahl a few days ago on his blog “Creative Creativity: A Daily Guide To Creativity And New Ideas,” is thought provoking:
I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.
I wouldn’t personally say “trying to teach children anything” is “a big mistake,” but I do think we often fail to take student interests into account when formulating assignments and learning tasks. It’s much easier to simply give students an assignment without differentiating it to meet their needs, skills, and (to an extent) their interests. Striving to ignite interest and fuel natural creativity with students should be an essential element of 21st century teaching.
For ideas and inspiration related to creativity and learning, check out David’s past posts “Increasing Creativity: 5 Tips On How To Trick Your Brain Into Taking A Fresh Look At The World,” “Becoming Creative: 6 Easy Steps Toward Becoming Creative,” and “10 Ways To Prevent Writer’s Block.”
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On this day..
- Exemplary MinecraftEDU Water Challenge Build - 2014
- Google Calendar Appointment Slot Double Booking Mystery - 2012
- Our Inadequate Internet Infrastructure - 2010
- WordPress 2.9 adds image editing and video embedding via oEmbed - 2009
- Ustreaming with multiple local mics and remote callers via Skype - 2009
- Discussing eBooks, the Kindle, and the iPhone Amazon Application via Ustream - 2009
- Restored blog access and reflections on the psychology of daily blogging - 2008
- Considering options for a COV digital backpack camera upgrade - 2008
- Video to Flash format - 2006
- 21st Century Education reform - 2006