Sep 26, 2010
Comments Off on The Future is Now.

The Future is Now.

On Friday, I got a chance to sit down with a group of teachers and administrators who have their eyes on the future. We are all in the development of the Futures Forum Project, which is a pilot project that we are bringing to the WRDSB.

There are many things at play at these discussions. A few of my reflections:

1. Any time the idea of technology in the classroom is bandied about, I feel that the razzle dazzle of the technology sometimes overwhelms. This happens in two ways; either we think we are being innovative when we are really doing the same thing we’ve always done but put a new flashier cover on it; or when we worry about teaching the tech skill over the real life skill. These problems came up many times throughout the discussion. How then can we take this opportunity to create the “classroom of the future” (although in the future their shouldn’t be a classroom)?

2. I think this is an opportunity to tear down the walls. Totally. Too many times we were reminded about the politics at play. We need to be successful (whatever that means?) so we can scale it. We need to ensure we can maintain status quo in every other grade, so we can’t go too outside the box (despite agreeing that the box is limiting opportunities to learn). We choose education over learning (structures like periods, bells, attendance, etc is not being considered as an element to the classroom of the future).

3. It is great to be in a room where teachers are actively looking to get better. All involved, regardless of how far they are ready to push, each person in the room wants to get better and see students learn better. Love to be part of that group.

4. The idea of power came up often. Who has the power in the classroom? Who should have it? Who should decide what we do? How we do it? What does a functioning, effective classroom look like? Are teachers really ready to give up power in the class?

5. I am ready to fail. I posted before that I am afraid this will be successful and I will be seen as a puppet. I don’t think that is my fear anymore. On Friday while listening I heard many people express their ideas of success and fear of failing. While reading, The Talent Code, I recognize that I am ready to fail. I’m even ready to fail BIG. That’s sometimes what it takes and I’m ready to have my name associated with a major failure, especially if that brings us closer to a real answer.

6. I got more paper handouts at this session then I’ve used in all my classes so far this year. I’ve e-mailed everyone involved to see if we can change this, but for a project leaning towards the future with everyone technologically savvy how is this not a priority and the first thought?

7. Product is emphasized over process. Because we are so caught up in the idea of evaluation and marks, we plan the product students are to produce without planning, explicitly, the process of teaching. This is going to require much thought as to how this will be achieved.

The project is now well on its way and the time is clicking by, ever so quickly. I am excited, energized and processing loads of ideas after this meeting. Here’s hoping we keep pushing the boundaries and make something truly revolutionary happen.

Sep 23, 2010
Comments Off on How will the Future Forum classroom take shape? Now we start real planning. How much should I push?

How will the Future Forum classroom take shape? Now we start real planning. How much should I push?

How will the Future Forum classroom take shape? Now we start real planning. How much should I push? Should I even have to? #futureforum

Sep 21, 2010
Comments Off on The Dumbest Generation

The Dumbest Generation

Today, I had an awesome day with my classes. I posted this quote at the front of the class.

“You are the dumbest generation.”

I called them on it. I challenged them. They rose to the challenge.

They questioned the source, they pushed through the ideas that frivolity and superficiality was all they were about. They accepted certain aspects of the premise, yet were able to explain the justifications. They provided examples of the depth of their conversations. They talked about the amount of pressure, scheduled activity and responsibility they had. They talked about the social action that their generation heads up. They talked about the plurality of their world. They explored the statement in a rich, deep and meaningful way. Then they pushed back.

“Mr. Kemp, the problem is it is easy to label us as dumb and lazy, but often it is because we are bored, disenchanted and cynical. Wouldn’t you be if you are treated like you are the dumbest generation?” This from a student who has failed this course before because she wouldn’t do any work, the few times she was in the room.

This conversation was had by two separate groups of 25 Grade 11 College English students. The students who are said to lack critical thinking skills. They blew me away. Every single one was engaged. This doesn’t altogether surprise me though. They were defending their honour. They were defending their place in this world. They all had a stake, so they stood up for it.

Why can’t we engage them everyday, all day in education? They know what is at stake, but we continually let them down. How are we going to rise to them?

Today they showed me, they were most definitely not the dumbest generation. When teachers pull out the worksheets and scantron tests, they see right through it. They see teacher laziness. They are smarter than that.

Sep 21, 2010
Comments Off on Of which I am afraid?

Of which I am afraid?

In a September 3rd blog, Seth Godin set out a challenge. He challenged readers to talk with their colleagues about that which they are afraid. The two fears, that which might fail and that which might succeed.

I leave my fears here:

I am afraid that my ideas and new teaching philosophy will fail because I don’t give them enough time to develop and students refuse to see the benefits.

I am afraid that Future Forums will be succeed only as a means for resume primping and I’ll be seen as a puppet.

I have more, but that’s good for now.

Sep 20, 2010
Comments Off on Questions for the Education Revolution

Questions for the Education Revolution

Here are some questions I think we need to consider as we begin framing our lives for the 21st century. Some questions have been absconded, re-worded, or modified from various blogs I’ve read.

Attention: How do we need to change our concepts and practices of attention for a new era?

Participation: How do we encourage meaningful interaction and participation in a digital age? How do we transition our students from consumers of media to contributors, creators and participants?

Collaboration: How do we rework our ideas of possession of ideas and the creation of projects? How can we use the power of connection to push our ideas forward and to incorporate the strengths of the many?

Community awareness: How can we both thrive as creative individuals and understand our place within our community or network? How

Civic Duty: What is our responsibility to the world, now that we know so much more and we have access to more tools for change?

Storytelling: How do narrative elements shape the information we wish to convey, helping it to have force in a world of competing information?  

Game Literacy: AS video games have overtaken television and movies as most consumed media, how does that change our students’ ideas of reality? How does it modify our understanding of student feedback?

Critical Thinking: How do we learn to be critical of what we consume, without a moderator?  How do students separate the frivolous information with the necessary?

Digital Divide: How do basic aspects of economics and culture dictate not only who participates in the digital age but how they participate?

Ethics: What are the new moral imperatives of our interconnected age? How do we establish true character in our students when anonimity is created and celebrated online? 

Assessment:  What are the best, most fluid, most adaptive and helpful ways to measure progress and productivity as a part of a productive process that also requires innovation and creativity? How do we make learning the real motive for our students, parents and teachers, not just grades?

Sustainability: How do we protect the environment in a plugged-in era? How will new tools make it easier to go paperless, carbon-neutral or at the very least environmental conscious?

Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning: How do we teach student to learn something, identify the errors, unlearn what they’ve learn and relearn the process? 

This list will surely continue to grow…

Sep 16, 2010
Comments Off on Just a road worker…

Just a road worker…

I am a road worker. Each student is driving their car. Follow the metaphor…

Students are driving down the road of their lives. I try to make the road ahead of them as drive-able as possible. Sometimes that means tearing it right up to the foundation. Sometimes that means just re-covering the surface. Sometimes, I’m going to be the guy with the sign saying slow down. And at times, I’m going to be offering them a detour. I want that road to be open and drive-able every day.

As the road worker, I’m trying every day to make sure they never face a road block. Despite the many that others try to put up. I’ll never step into the driver’s seat and steer the wheel because I know the direction is not my job. My only concern is that no matter where they go and when they get there, their drive is smooth. And that they continue to drive.

Some come with souped up engines, while others drive k-cars. If I’ve done my job well, it shouldn’t really matter.

I want them to turn up the radio, tap their hands on the wheel as they drive and see the world rolled out in front of them.

I hope my students can open the engine and drive free.

Sep 16, 2010
Comments Off on Scott Kemp

Scott Kemp

No matter how hard I try to learn the game of educational politics, I still seem to get it wrong. Why are we teaching in the past, when we are living in the present trying to prepare for the future?

Sep 13, 2010
Comments Off on Unschooling?


More families are deciding that school’s out forever.

A reading about the growing trend of unschooling.The next question is, “How do we embrace the positive aspects of unschooling and integrate them into a public education system?  What is our next step?”Imagine, a classroom that is driven by curiosity, student initiative and experiential learning.  That, is a classroom that works.

Sep 13, 2010
Comments Off on Jason Price — University of Victoria

Jason Price — University of Victoria

Education is about the production of more democracy, production of peace, production of happiness whereas schooling is often the production of global economic competitiveness.

Sep 13, 2010
Comments Off on Can you go 50%?

Can you go 50%?

What if teachers were forced to cut 50% of their paper use? What would the ramifications be?

I see 4 things happening:
1.) The money saved would enable more classrooms to be outfitted with wireless access, computer access and digital technologies (projectors, e-readers, etc.)
2.) The environmental impact of the school would be significantly reduced. This one is obvious.
3.) Teachers would be forced to re-think old, out-dated, ways of teaching and would not be able to rely on handouts, teacher-centred lectures, and tests, quizzes and exams.
4.) Teachers would be modelling a behaviour that students would adapt. They would also model how conscious, active citizens impact major industries and corporations. Students would see teachers being active in the pursuit of nobler goals, rather than just talking the talk.

I don’t know about you, but I see win-win.

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