Sunday, May 16, 2010

A New Way of Education - part 2

Friday's tweetup sponsored by the Edmonton Public Teachers Local 37, discussed in part 1, was a definite hit.  The organization created new standards of excellence in how people can become more engaged not only in Education, but also within the community. Patrick Johner added in a comment in part 1, which is quoted below (just in case anyone missed reading it) that clarifies the two official statements.
Just to clarify for your readers, about the reference of "The first two are official statements that our total membership agreed to last year." This refers to two of Local 37's Public Vision Statements. They are stated below for easy reference:

By 2012 the Edmonton Public Teachers Local will be:
1. A leader in promoting member (Teachers) engagement in the Local, the ATA and the COMMUNITY.
2. A respected voice that advocates for policies that address issues, trends, and conditions affecting public education.
Now that you are up to speed on the previous post, I think that it is important for readers to know that Education and Community were definitely discussed!  The gathering of people was impressive, and folks sat in various little groups carrying on their own discussions.  I was centered between two groups, listening to words from @stolenfire and @Tamara_Stecyk on my right..and @ChemCath and @britl on my left. There were also a few others in the two groups that I didn't get to know. (No one knows this about me until now, but I had measles as a kid, and my left ear was infected and the inner ear was destroyed, making "dual conversations" difficult for me at times.)

What really caught my interest, and what I wanted to bring up in this post, was the conversation I had with ChemCath.  It evolved around the idea of what kids today know... or maybe more importantly do NOT know, and I have to wonder why.  We talked about many things, such as community involvement, parents, camping, cooking, exams, and learning.  Our children for the most part, have lost the art of many of these topics.  The chances of these kids knowing about sifting flour, making dough, baking... are pretty much zilch.  The kids have been saying they know little about camping, etc, and I wonder why these family type events don't happen like they used to when I was growing up.  Unless they have a calculator, the mental math skills seem lacking, and they don't seem to know how to survive without electronics.

We also had a good talk about exams, and the NEED to have written answers instead of everything being multiple choice.  Unless our children can explain HOW they got the answer, we will never really know if they truly understand the question.  Yes, it takes more time to mark those types of questions, and we seem to be leading towards making things easier for the teachers.  With all due respect, this is the WRONG reason to remove written answers in exams.

As I write this, with twitter opened in the background, a very timely comment appeared from @DaveHancockMLA at 10:07 AM... "Students say they learn best by seeing and doing".  I can't agree more, so my question is... When will teachers be allowed to do what they do best.  Are we SO caught up in the minuscule finances, that we can't re-organize structure to allow the teachers to teach, and the children to learn?

There were several groups I didn't have the time to sit in with, the time went by SO fast.  Sadly, there were also a few people I didn't introduce myself to (shame on me) and for that I deeply apologize.  So many people were there, so many discussions going on...  Perhaps a "suggested format" for future tweetups might be something along the lines of the 'speed dating' concept, where people can get into groups of 4 or 6, and then after 20 minutes or so 1/2 of the group can move to another.  I admit, it is a rather insane concept to try, especially when you get such quality discussions going on like those of this event, you just don't want to break away!

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