The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men.
Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.
A week has passed since I attended this year’s CUE Conference in Palm Springs. I’d like to provide a short review of the conference as whole (individual sessions will follow), but any reading of this review should be tempered with the understanding that this was my first CUE experience.
Without presenting any of my own pedagogy or biases, let me just say that the Keynotes did exactly what they needed to do; inspire, create debate and create conversation. While I was only able to make one of the Keynote speakers (Marco Torres), I did overhear conversations and debates surrounding the opening and closing speeches and well as open panel discussions that strayed down a path of debate over the opening speech and the place of Charter Schools in the educational system.
From this standpoint, the Keynote Speakers accomplished their mission.
The sessions at CUE represented an adequate range of interests ranging from hands on sessions with basic technologies (iPads, Laptops, Smartphones and Smartboards) to internet based tools, softwares and apps all the way up to higher order ideas surrounding the debate and pedagogical justification for technology integration in classrooms.
It is the latter end of the range that I found somewhat disappointing. Presumably the committee either assumed that attendees did not need to be convinced, or there simply was not enough data to create a reasonable argument one way or another. Regardless, for those of us who feel more than comfortable with the technology and the implementation of it, there was little to grasp and take away from the majority of the sessions (the few exceptions warrant their own post, soon to come) so as a result, I left feeling I had only seen a session or two worth real value to me.
Palm Springs is great. A wonderful dessert Oasis with even better weather allows for attendees to actually feel like they have taken a small vacation and can concentrate on the thinking and working going on rather than the weather, lodging, transportation and any other issues that come up in various cities that host these sorts of events.
The conference itself took place at the Palm Springs Convention Center which, while modern and lovely in many ways, left something to be desired when it came to layout and room size for many of the sessions.
I presume the CUE committee anticipated this given that many of the sessions also took place in the neighboring Renaissance and Hilton Hotels respectively. While these typically offered greater size for attendee participation they often had issues with internet signal strength coming from the CUE network.
In general, I had a positive experience as it provided time to look at tools, ideas and approaches and reflect on my own teaching practice. I would return to CUE simply for that time to brainstorm and get a few new ideas in the middle of what my school likes to lovingly refer to as “Farch”, the period just prior to Spring Break. For this reason, I would recommend the conference, with only slight hesitation, to those of you who feel you are advanced when it comes to technology and its implementation.
For those who are just learning the way in which technologies can transform learning and/or need some new tools, tips, etc to enhance this new practice, CUE is the place for you. It seems to be the target audience CUE was attempting to aim towards and, if so, hit a full on bulls eye.
It is little short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not already completely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry…. I believe that one could even deprive a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness if one could force it with a whip to eat continuously whether it were hungry or not…Albert Einstein
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King
On his blog “For the Love of Learning”, Joe Bower gives a solid account of the International Conference for School Effectiveness and Improvement. It demonstrates a more globalized connectedness in moving education reform down a path toward inquiry and constructivism and away from standardiztion. Worth a read!
A well written and seemingly objective account of Hirsch’s work claiming that a more fact based approach to education is what is needed to revamp the American education system. The author, Paul Trout, takes his readers through several of Hirsh’s major arguments before providing his reasonable and un-biased critiques of the work. Worth a read for those of us involved in the debate over “constructivists” and “traditional” pedagogical approaches.
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” ― Plato