“A child is like a sunflower, nurture him and he will mature to perfection.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Buck Stops Here!

Refusing to take responsibility is the motto of our age.
“I am a product of circumstances beyond my control, therefore I can not be blamed for anything that happens to me. I always have a clear conscience and my psychiatrist is satisfied that I am happy and normal”.
What a load of baloney!
Observe someone whose business is successful. Rarely will he attribute his achievements to anything but his efforts, intelligence, dedication and application.
The logic is clear; if you are never liable for punishment you are never worthy of rewards.
Jack* was standing by to see if he could help Jill* prepare dinner. Jill was opening a can of string beans. As Jill lifted the lid, a sharp burr from the edge of the lid cut her finger and she started to bleed. Jill’s first reaction was to say "if you hadn't crowded me in, this would not have happened". Jill is enacting the ‘I am not guilty’ routine. It may be that Jack’s presence disturbed her concentration, but Jill was the one that did not look out for sharp burrs in the lid. Jill refused to take responsibility for her action.
This mind frame results when education over-focuses on making the child or student happy,  not criticizing negative behavior and of course never making the culprit feel guilty. Only giving positive signals to develop a well-balanced student is lying.
The basic premise is wrong. Happiness is acquired by accomplishment. The achievements do not have to be medals and trophies. Real success is when the character of the pupil is ennobled. This is where complete honesty and openness is essential. There must be yardsticks by which a pupil can see clearly whether he is doing well or not.
Practically this is attained by assigning responsibilities. Make the pupil or child aware that his actions have consequences. "You don’t have to do your homework assignment, however, be aware that if you don’t know the subject matter you will not be able to pass the exams".
You don’t have to come for dinner now, but I will not keep the food warm on the stove for you for later.
If you don’t put your dirty clothes in the washing hamper, I am not going to wash them. You have only 4 days of fresh clothing to draw from; so bear the consequences of your actions.
You broke my best screwdriver using it as a lever to open the drain! As you were honest and came to tell me about it, I will not make you pay for the loss.
Each pupil is unique and the educator must find the right approach for his specific charge. However, the aim must stay clearly in focus, everyone is responsible for his or her actions.

*fictitious names taken from nursery rhymes

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Electronic Tablets; BOON or DOOM?

Why hesitate to give each student his own tablet? Why do parents and teachers have qualms?
Can it be the fear of addiction? Youngsters do become entranced by certain games and involved in social media text messaging, entirely absorbing their attention, to the exclusion of all other interests. I remember when television was the big bad wolf, which interfered with homework and studies. Students need guidance on the application of their time to useful activities.
Why the big fear?
Precisely the ability to entrance the student, which is what causes the hesitation, is its greatest strength as an educational tool.
The tablet is not the danger; its application is where the pitfalls lie.
Once a student is interested in a subject, what better media is available for him to gather all the facts? He has at his finger-touch; on-line encyclopedias, tutorial videos, travelogues, musical appreciation of all kinds.
The price of these devices is dropping, soon they will cost not much more than standard toys. (There are always the latest models for the leading edge clan, but for the rest of us last year's model at cheap prices is quite adequate). The tablets are becoming ubiquitous. Let us make a concerted effort to guide our students to the most fruitful application of their toys.

Build the Adult

“Train a child according to his way; even when he is old he will not depart from it. .”
Teachers can be vital personalities who help young people to mature, to understand the world, and to understand themselves. A good education consists of much more than useful facts and marketable skills.
The aim of education is not to give the student technical prowess on the use of electronic devices. That is the realm of training, not education. True education develops a student in whatever branch of learning he chooses, to attain a level of expertise to become a trustworthy user of that discipline, to attain a sense of duty and responsibility.
Each student is unique in his abilities to absorb information, concentrate, understand and apply the learned materials to other situations.
The teacher is an educator, trained to detect students with difficulties. He must be able to motivate the student to desire improvement. This will automatically give the student a sense of purpose and self-worth.
With huge curriculum to cover, how can the teacher be expected to give individual attention to slow students?
[fanfare...] Enter the deployment of electronic tablets in the classroom.
Electronic Tablets are the most exciting tool educators have at their disposal. Each student can follow courses at his own speed. The best teachers in the world can be used to create course content and students everywhere can benefit. Full multimedia presentations, videos, sound and text keep the student interested and keen to learn more. Interactive projects between students help develop interpersonal skills and teamwork concepts. Management tools can be used to monitor progress of projects and the students can keep tabs on the other members of their project. Leadership and project control skills are learnt.
Classrooms have to become self-help teaching laboratories. The teacher is relieved of the tasks of actually teaching, this can be done very effectively using electronic courses. Teachers become guides, showing the next path to take, detecting when students are not motivated. Train teachers to change a student's approach to a subject, either by changing the media, the sequence of tutorials, his motivation or the choice of subjects.
Design the curriculum that the student feels he is advancing towards mastery of the subject. The speed of advancement is dependent on the student. Emphasize mastery of the subject matter. The feeling of having mastered the subject gives the student confidence.
The student is responsible for his own advancement. Use group projects to develop skills in co-operation, leadership and reliability.
The use of technology should be seamless, like using a pen and paper. These powerful tools give each student unlimited access to the knowledge storage of the world.
This model will develop the student to reach his full potential as he reaches maturity.