It’s definitely beginning. My brain is coming out of slumber and seeking stimulus. Bill Bryson has fallen into the ‘only late at night’ slot, and theology-lite books that looked promising last week are good for five minutes, but then I get bored. Truth is, I’m bored with proper theology too right now. Not with God. Just with talk about God.
Enter random internet browsing… and thus, TED talks.
This is today’s find: Khan Academy.
The classroom teaching that I most enjoyed was Middle School Writing & Reading Workshops. Nancie Atwell was the guru, and it is all very old and very ancient now. Except that the good of it still seems not to have permeated British classrooms, and the model of education still stirs excitement for me.
Basically, the method says that to learn to read we must read, to learn to write we must write, and to become accomplished at anything at all, we must first make lots and lots of mistakes and not be afraid of them.
(call me on that one later — my educational philosophy says, ‘lots and lots of mistakes are good’. my current life path says, ‘terrible mistake. can’t possibly do that again.’)
I loved the workshop method because students were excited about what they were doing. I got to teach the moment instead of the curriculum (though that happened too). And it was a whole lot easier to convince them of the merits of a semi-colon when the use of one suddenly added humour and pace to the narrative they were trying to create. But I’ve always thought of the workshop model simply in terms of the English classroom.
Kahn Academy applies it right across the board — first with maths, and then with all sorts of other things. The ‘core teaching’ is done through video and progressive exercises that can be done at home; which means that the classroom teacher has infinite flexibility to respond to the needs of the individuals and to make time for creative exploration and application of ideas. Better still: it is all free, and you don’t have to be in 12 grade to learn Calculus. Or to relearn in my case. But I suspect I need to start with the 8th graders, and Algebra One.
(actually, for those of you who remember Hermione’s Heaven: go to the exorcizes and follow the tree from the root. Lots of gold stars to be had, while you remember the happy buzz of grade school.)