At LWF12 one of the speakers was Mitchel Resnick.
Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten research group developed the ideas and technologies underlying the LEGO Mindstorms robotic kits and the Scratch programming software used by millions of young people around the world. With these technologies, young people learn to design, create, experiment, and invent with new technologies, not merely browse, chat, and interact. Mitch’s ideas and work are now at the centre of the debate about the curriculum for ICT in schools. Should children simply learn to use standard applications and games, or should they also have the opportunity to become creators?
Mitchel Resnick made the interesting observation that rather than trying to make Kindergarten (early years) more like school and college, we should be trying to make school and college more like early years.
What he seemed to mean by this was that in early years children learn by thinking, invention and creativity. Whereas when they get older we think of them more as vessels that we pour content into.
Of course there are lots of teachers out there who do use thinking, invention and creativity. Likewise there are lots of teachers out there that fall back on worksheets and talking at the learners; pouring content into them.
The key question and I am not sure how we can answer this, is what proportion of each kind are there? Are they that distinct, or can a teacher be creative one day and fall back on passive transference on the next. I am pretty sure most people enter the teaching profession because they want to be help young people and to support learning and not pour content into learners.
I agree with Mitchel that technology offers a range of opportunities and possibilities to enable learners to be creative. The key question is how do teachers who weren’t at the conference find out about the possibilities of invention and creativity? How do they “change”?
Why are some teachers already using these strategies and why are some not? It can’t just be about time, staff development and resources. How can some teachers be innovative and some not?
Why aren’t teachers using these strategies in the classroom already? What are the barriers that are stopping teachers? Are they real barriers or just perceptions? How do we overcome these barriers? How do we identify the barriers? How do we ensure that we identify the real barriers to change and not just those that we assume to be the barriers?
Change is challenging, partly as people don’t like to change. Change also implies we know where we are and where we need to go.