Beware the seduction of the teachable moment

“Like most people I like to tell stories, to talk about things that I know and find interesting and to pass on my skills to others. Most of us do it all the time to the people we interact with closely: to our elders, our peers and especially to children. This makes life in a group interesting and exciting. And that is how we all learn a great deal about new ideas and new ways of thinking or doing things. Seeing others is so fascinating because that is how we enlarge our understanding of the world. It is a natural aspect of the human communal experience and it is the greatest way to acquire knowledge.
However, this is all fine until adults start to impart their knowledge to children, before they are asked for their input. While teaching works like magic when a person asks for information, it is toxic and disruptive when the adult seizes the moment to teach a child something without the child’s consent.”

from: “The Evil Of The Teaching Moment”
Hanna Greenberg, Sudbury Valley School
http://www.sudval.org/essays/092010.shtml

“At first a number of kids divided the coins into clearly unequal piles. It sparked a debate among the students about what one-half meant. Juárez Correa’s training told him to intervene. But now he remembered Mitra’s research and resisted the urge.”
“… by letting them elect leaders who would decide how to run the class and address discipline. The children elected five representatives, including Paloma and Usiel. When two boys got into a shoving match, the representatives admonished the boys, and the problem didn’t happen again.”
from: “How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses”

http://www.wired.com/business/2013/10/free-thinkers/all

(BTW, since this Wired article mentions Sugata Mitra and the “Granny Cloud” let me just state that I am not a big fan, at least as demonstrated in various videos I have seen on youtube. It to me seems like hype/novelty effect/a waste of money. Better to set up some sort of Sudbury School/ Library/ Hackspace sort of environment. The idea I suppose is that an internet connection and volunteer Grannies are much cheaper than doing school right? But I don’t think it has to be expensive. Let the local teachers foster the school community directly — like Sergio Juárez Correa did… mentioned in the article. Connecting with long-distance penpals via Skype… well… “the Grannies” might be fun once a week, but can hardly be thought of as a central part of the school community. But I think that’s the part that Wired is stoked about because it’s the technology part. Too bad. The kids doing their own thing is the actual interesting part, IMHO.)

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