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November 22, 2011
It's so nice to see Clay Burell post again, and he comes up with a gem, on an example of beautiful learning. "Joy chose to explore the Golden Age of Chinese lyric poetry of the Tang Dynasty. The result, below — technical quibbles aside — is evidence that Joy is aptly named. Give her a couple of minutes to get past her intro and into the heart of it all, and maybe you’ll get some of that ga-ga too." I watched the video - it's absolutely fascinating, and so worth watching.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Video, China]
July 2, 2010
The key think the 'common core' people get wrong is that there are other ways to see the world. This is drawn out evocatively by Clay Burell as he describes some recent work in Chinese literary theory. He writes, "Nisbett's whole point in this book of 'cultural psychology' is to show that modes of thought differ from culture to culture, that Enlightenment universalism is belied by the evidence, etc, etc. The point of the passage itself is to illustrate how unlike our abstract and essentialist Greek way of thinking is the Chinese, which resists hard categories and prefers, as Nisbett puts it, 'expressive, metaphoric language.'"
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Books, China, Ontologies]
I read Animal Farm years ago and like everyone else thought of it as an anti-socialist tract. That was, after all, the 'standard interpretation' of the book. But since reading the Orwell Diaries I have been introduced to Orwell the socialist. Today's students fare no better. Clay Burrell says, "If they studied Animal Farm in the classroom, the depressing odds are they learned it as a good, all-American attack on socialism.... Teachers and textbooks who frame the issue this way strangle the baby of inquiry in the cradle, and slip in its place a plump little bundle of propaganda to comfort the kids by cooing that they're on the right side of history." It would be nice to think that we've moved beyond that, but as Burrell notes here, propaganda has been alive and well in the 2000s, at least according to this Harvard study on references to waterboarding. We need media literacy - and critical literacies in general - more than ever in an information age. See also this.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: United States, Marketing]
June 29, 2010
"I'm thankful that I teach in Asia - because Asia is thankful for it, too," writes Clay Burell. Your wake-up call for the 21st century. Great post from Burell, who adds, "Teachers have 'asked what they can do for their country,' and they do it. Daily. But they should have the good sense to also ask what their country is doing for them, patriotic martyrdom propaganda aside. If their country has reached a 'tottering, chaotic' point at which it 'loathes' them, then teachers do have choices."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Marketing]
March 24, 2010
Clay Burell revisits the lists of books we must read some time in our lives. It's a topic I have considered recently, as I have spent time recently reading the classics I missed during childhood (this comes about because I have basically finished all of science fiction, and there's almost no new science fiction published any more). My list, I think, would be very different from Burell's (and yes, would include some Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein). Burell's list puzzles me - Whitman and not Frost? Chuang Tzu and not the Tao Te Ching or the Analects? Nietzsche but not Kant, Hegel, Hume or Descartes?
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Books]
December 28, 2009
Excellent short video introducing critical thinking. Clay Burell asks, "What follow-up questions for discussion or writing will get the most bang for the buck if used in the classroom?" The video originates from the QualiaSoup collection on YouTube (where you'll find more good introductory philosophy videos).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: YouTube, Video]
Clay Burell described how he changed his technology - and his approach - in his Chinese history course this year. He changed his textbook, replaced Blackboard with Ning, and, well, still got stuck in the "one fact after another" trap, something that's easy to do when covering one dynasty after another for a 4,000 year time span. I like the post because of the concreteness of the example (and because I studied Chinese history as an elective in high school).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Blackboard Inc., China]
December 2, 2009
The Great Google Outage continues in my home in Moncton, as the Rogers Internet DNS service cannot seem to find the internet search site (or any of its affiliates, such as Blogger). I'm going to put the entire household on OpenDNS when I get home, but in the meantime, I have to wonder what sort of nefarious silliness Rogers is up to (oh yes, I know they're up to something, they've been hijacking (increasingly frequent) DNS errors and routing 404 results to Yahoo searches). Meanwhile, for those who do get Google and trust it religiously, some media literacy, including stuff on peer reviewed journals and popular media.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Yahoo!, Google, Blogger]
September 4, 2008
From time to time people raise the question of ethics - what ought to guide our posts? What ought to guide our teaching? And it has seemed to me over time that the principles of ethics and the principles of reason converge - that what is ethical is to write and teach in accord with the principles of good reason (sometimes called 'critical thinking', though I need to talk about this separately some time). Because the only way youth can be 'corrupted' (in any meaningful sense of the term) is when they read uncritically, and when teaching contravenes the ethic and spirit of critical enquiry.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
July 30, 2008
July 24, 2008
OK, I wouldn't even mention this at all (I got 10 out of 12 on the news quiz, not bad U.S. political knowledge for a non-American) but in the last 24 hours (a) several of us heard someone insist that Bolivia was not in South America, and (b) I was asked at the ball game where Portland is. Portland! But I will admit, none of this beats the reference to the Iraq-Pakistan border. Heh. Symptoms of a deeper malaise, though. Related: Why history isn't learned.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Gaming, Schools, United States]
July 15, 2008
Wordle may be the latest online "application du jour" but Clay Burell talks about a more pedagogically important tool from UQAM which has been around for several years. VocabProfiler is a lexical analysis tool. These tools, of which Clay mentions several, can be used by students to analyze their writing and by teachers to develop quizzes, among many possible uses. -HJ
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
June 24, 2008
Clay Burell asks, "Can somebody remind me why, with free online resources like this, schools are spending tens of thousands of dollars on short-shelf-life textbooks, often dumbed-down and intellectually neutered (or worse, downright propagandistic) due to the textbook industry's fear of alienating their biggest markets in conservative Texas and California?" He is referring to the Biography of America series, a 26 part media-rich online resource sponsored by WGBS-PBS. Clay has recently followed the direction of his blog title and just "left schooling". -HJ
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Books, Web Logs, Patents]
June 10, 2008
Clay Burell writes, "This all connects to the decision I announced yesterday to 'stop working for schools so I can teach.' Some of the comments I've received suggest that people have defined schools as a necessary ingredient in the definition of 'teaching,' and I can't say loudly enough that that is an historical error of the largest proportions." It just seems to me that as people become informed about the value of online learning, they leave the traditional school system. Just saying.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Online Learning]
March 10, 2008
It's not often I share a wedding in these pages, but this one is worth noting, not only because of the Twitter invitation but because edublogger Clay Burell UStreamed it live (the sound comes on in a bit, give it a few seconds). But there's more: Carolyn Foot with her gift make from Flickr Toys, and even better, the voicethread created by Chris Betcher, and even more, the aggregation of everything created by Frank in Mexico. Oh yeah, and Miguel Guhlin notes that the videos hyou make with VoiceThread are now downloadable, so you don't need to worry about them disappearing forever.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Flickr, Twitter, Video]
March 4, 2008
Clay Burrell wrestles with 'schooliness' - something that's hard to define but asy to recognize when you see it. As when, for example, personal blogs become nothing more than a place to hand in your homework. "I'm battling with schooliness now, most distressingly, in the very people I thought would battle it with me: my high school seniors. It seems they are so unfamiliar with having their own ideas, and writing about them, that they simply cannot do it with any engagement. Pretending to have ideas they pretend to care about... Twelve years of schooliness seems to have beaten the desire to learn - the pleasure of learning - completely out of most seniors. Also the subject of a guest post on Wes Fryer's blog.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Web Logs]
Natural Collaboration: "To underline how radically different this 'Quick-in, Quick-Out' global collaboration model is from most of what I've seen: it's not scripted. It's not teacher-directed. It's what, thanks to a Skype call with Dean Shareski a couple days ago (podcast almost edited), I've decided to label: Natural Global Collaboration. And it requires only a few minutes from one cool person out there who finds helping people (notice I didn't say 'kids' or even 'students') simply an enjoyable activity."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Audio Chat and Conferencing, Podcasting, Cool]
December 17, 2007
"I was bullied for two years in high school. Every day," writes Clay Burrell. "But this story does things differently. It's to the bullied. It tells them that, for me, over 700 consecutive days of bullying in high school was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It just took me a couple decades to realize that." I'm glad Burrell got past being bullied. I'm happy for him. But his perspective is simply wrong. Being bullied is not a good thing. It's not something students should simply have to tolerate. It's not - as Rick Mercer says in his video - enough to say that high school is the worst their lives will get. Because, for people who are bullied, it might not be - it might just be the kick-off to years of fears, depression and anxiety. I'm really glad things worked out for Burrell. But he must not fall into the fallacy of thinking that every bullied student can just pull himself up by his bootstraps.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Video, Push versus Pull, Bullying]
December 7, 2007
One of these things I'd like to see succeed. Clay Burell writes, "I have watched this handful of impressive students young adults from around the world working tirelessly for the last three weeks on an endless Skype chat to prepare the launch of the new Students 2.0 edublog. And I've been amazed at how much more they know than any adult I know about many things technical and pedagogical." There's a list of things you can do to participate in the launch, which takes place in a couple of days.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Audio Chat and Conferencing, Adult Learning, Chatrooms]
December 6, 2007
Clay Burell serves up this new blog. "The idea behind Slam Teaching is not unlike the idea behind slam poetry. Teaching, this blog posits, is an extemporaneous, aggressive, lyric, funny thing to do. It's a way of expressing oneself; it is art, and it is unpredictable. This blog will work (slowly, progressively) toward a better understanding of teaching as this dynamic force - an animated performance rather than a set of skills that react with criteria for learning."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Web Logs]
November 9, 2007
Some discussion and a sample letter to parents allowing them to select the level of privacy for their child's blog. I like the way it introduces educational blogging to parents - "it's a way for your child to read more about subjects they have a genuine interest in; to learn more about that subject through reading about it; to write more - and better - in order to attract readers in the world" - and I like the way it asks people to make choices, rather than deciding for them.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Web Logs, Privacy Issues]
October 15, 2007
One thing I've notice recently, in addition to an overall increase in the volume of Ed tech related content, is a big jump in the quality and accessibility of that content. I have dozens of journal articles to review, videos to watch, sharp insights to comment upon, applications to try out - and items like this, summarizing really important concepts in incisive cutting diagrams. Like this one, which makes the case for net neutrality (supported, I read in an article today, by more than 60 percent of Canadians) better than any essay ever could. Just look at it.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Accessibility, Video, Quality, Canada]
Oh goodness yes: "Anybody who's taught high school English should know why most students hate to write in schools. It's because they're taught to write badly." And even more to the point: "If I assigned any of you to write about ideas that aren't self-selected, in forms that aren't self-expressive, for an over-worked audience of one that puts two or three words, random red hieroglyphs, and a permanently-branded number into a ledger that threatens to determine your fate, face it: you would learn to hate writing (and school) too." I want to teach writing some time. I used to teach writing (it was a class called 'Critical Thinking' but I kind of repurposed the content, focusing on helping students pass their other classes rather than forcing them to pass mine). Ah, another project for the pile.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Project Based Learning]
September 26, 2007
Interesting story about an exercise where students read a poem into MP3 as part of a class assignment - and discover more in the poem than they thought, and more than their teacher expected. No deep lessons here, but it's part of an overall pattern of perception and meaning as being composed of more than just words.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
September 21, 2007
OK, I didn't think much of the music samples offered in this post, but I'm not really into funk. What I will say is that, like Clay Burell, I was amazed to discover what GarageBand can do, and I think it's an absolutely fantastic tool to use to teach people music. Though you do need a Mac to do it, which can get a bit expensive.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
This post brings together the Voices form the New American Schoolhouse video, a nice dramatization of a short talk by Alan Watt (someone I read a fair amount), and some extensive quoting from Ivan Illich, leading to the proposition, as I write, that "The task we should be undertaking is not one of trying to stuff more and more knowledge into students' heads, but rather, finding more and more ways they can make meaningful contributions to society."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Video, United States]