Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

This Is What Learning Looks Like by Gary Stager (Nov 2012)

These are my notes from Gary Stager‘s breakout session, “This Is What Learning Looks Like,” at the 2012 Interactive Learning Institute sponsored by the K20 Center at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

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Reception at MIT Media Lab this year for Constructing Modern Knowledge July 9-12, 2013 in Manchester, New Hampshire

How can you expect to teach 21st century learners if you haven’t learned in the 21st century
– amazing, complex, deep projects being created at “Constructing Modern Knowledge”

Starting discussions with a classroom artifact:


This is from a school that suffers from a “poverty of abundance”
– art, music, library, PE, etc

How do you ever ‘get good at something’ when you’re being constantly interrupted
– this is at a ‘progressive school’ committed to progressive education

I’m horrified at what I see in many classrooms: A return to whole-group instruction
– activity revolves around what the teacher wants to be doing

Can we point to an event or time?
– Nation at Risk? NCLB? RTTT?
– When I become an elementary teacher in the mid 1980s I was in the last class that required you to play the piano a little, about thematic units, had to teach PE, more
– then someone started requiring a lot of psychology courses
– a lot of ‘the art of teaching’ has been lost
– technology can afford students chances to have access to deeper, more engaging, more complex ideas than they could access otherwise

“Imagine if what kids could do with kids was actually good?”
– kids could learn how to dance, sing, paint
– instead of marching kids through the software de jury
– using iPads, Chromebooks, etc to “find 5 facts about cats” on all them

Lots of breathless talk about transformation in schools, but almost ZERO ideas about what students are going to DO with these devices

Fundamentally schools tend to use tools as consumptive devices
– I am focused
– kids being mathematicians, filmmakers, composers, etc

Video Clip from HBO late night series: Frank Gehry – Masterclass
– college students were paired with artistic masters
– preparation of the ‘real world’

Example: students were asked to write and choreograph an opera
– question from 1 student: “What is the population of the city”

– students initially designed a city that the planner expert told them was just for 70 – 80K, and they need to make the city more dense, 10 times as big
– expert says: I didn’t intervene a lot, but I did make it impossible

One thing that kills me when I work with kids: We are so ready to MOVE ON to a new topic before students have understanding/mastery

Comment from Levi Patrick: “He is doing a good job creating and introducing disequilibrium into the lesson”

On 3D printing: you’re really just printing something
– that can risk confusing writing with laser printing

Often people who say “prepare for the real world” ask people (students/teachers) to do things that have no real connection to the real

David Perkins: “Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education
– great framework for curricular design

MIT and other institutions use this: Give kids impossible challenges and they will solve them

This has been the guiding statement of my work the past decade with educators:

Leon Botstein of Bard College says:

Young people have a remarkable capacity for intensity

Bill Gates said “I was fully formed as a programmer at 17”

I want kids doing work in schools that causes them to wake up in the middle of the night and rush back to school to keep working on their project

National Novel Writing Month this month
– why aren’t we doing this in school?
– period 1, period 2, etc

Most schools have no idea what students are passionate about

Papert: the goal of using computers is to do things we couldn’t do before

MakerBot Superstar Schuyler Says Kids Should Make Things (video)

Our aspirations need to be higher, that kids can create great things

The choice: mashup, remix or art?

Papert: Do we want to craft or crap?
– in a 37 minute class period, it often is crap

When you design prompts or challenges for students, follow example of Frank Gehry: “Design a city”
– clear, concise, unambiguous

Another example: Build something that climbs a ramp
– after you experience success, you’re tempted (in some cases) to move on to a bigger challenge (make it steeper)

Example videos that ask question “Is this cheating or just good science”
– being whimsical in a scientific context
– experiments with friction

This is election day: Kids can change the world
– clips from video by student in Minnesota who

Video project idea for your students: Using clips from different candidates, remix it for different messages
– get a feel for how media is used to manipulate

We start the institute a list of project ideas
– these all have complexity
– “I want to charge my iPhone as I ride my bike to work”

Not everything is linear in education and learning
– word processors have revolutionized writing because we can always be composing, engage in

We can’t operate under the assumption that kids are competent if we assume teachers are incompetent
– there are LOTS of computers in schools today and very LITTLE computing going on
– the ability to make things with a computer, to bend it to your will is what’s really important

Politicians are always going to be wrong about predictions for the future, based on faulty assumptions
– How did the Reagan administration do predicting Facebook?

WE need to create environments in schools where students can solve problems that no one has even imagined yet

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