Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Interaction With Others

"The first half of life is spent mainly in finding out who we are through seeing ourselves in our interaction with others." -June Singer

Whenever I encounter students over the sumer vacation - in a store...at the county fair...here, there and everywhere - they tell me that they're having fun but can't wait to get back to school. It's not the worksheets or testing that they miss, of course, it's their friends.

This desire to socialize is a natural one for children and young adults. Interacting with peers can enhance communication skills, build confidence, and help create a positive self image.

Yet it seems like we spend a lot of our school day working counter to this need to connect. Much of our instructional time is consumed by lectures and quiet seat work. Administrators frequently equate a noisier, more interactive classroom with poor teacher management techniques.

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of discussion in education circles, regarding the validity of cellphones and other communication devices as learning tools. Many district filters routinely block Google Documents, blogs, wikis, and social networking sites.

If we truly believe in the 21st century skill set, which emphasizes communication and collaboration, then we must determine how to use the students' need to connect with each other in an effective, meaningful way.

Rather than discourage children's sociability, let's channel it, using whatever tools are appropriate to the situation. Our millennial learners are already networked; it's up to us to show them how to utilize their skills for success in school and in life.

“I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they're interested in.” -Bill Gates

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” -Anthony Robbins

"Best Friends" by Yogi

Monday, July 13, 2009

which is yes

"i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes" -e.e. cummings
There are two small parks within easy driving distance of my home: Hovey Pond and Crandall Park.

The Hovey Pond recreational area includes a pond, a marsh, and a series of small gardens, lovingly maintained by volunteers.

Crandall Park is larger, and in addition to its pond, boasts various recreational facilities, including a picnic pavilion, large playground, softball diamond, basketball courts, and band shell.

Local residents of all ages use these parks extensively for walking, fishing, bird watching, family outings, and quiet relaxation. School groups occasionally visit, to study history, biology, botany, and ecology.

There are times when I head for the Adirondack wilderness, with its high peaks and pristine lakes. Usually, though, I patronize a more manageable bit of nature, just as lovely but much easier of access, less grand in scale. It's quite enough to still my restless feet and soothe my impatient spirit.

Hovey Pond 7/13/09

Crandall Park 7/10/09

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A New Way of Seeing Things

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” - Henry Miller

More than forty years ago, I celebrated Independence Day in Oxford, England.

I had never been outside of the United States before, but when the opportunity to study at the University of Oxford, during the summer between my junior and senior years in college, presented itself, I didn't hesitate.

In many ways, it was a life-altering experience.

Although computers were in existence during the '60s, they were not commonly available. Learning about other countries meant books or travel; the printed word or physical contact.

During my trip, I interacted with American students from all over the U.S. We found that our lives were quite different, our ideas of home, family, religion, politics often amazingly dissimilar.

There were numerous chances to travel - we saw London, Stonehenge, Stratford-on-Avon. Our group crossed the Channel to explore Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, Trier, Cologne. I can still see in my mind's eye, even after all these years, the bright Impressionist paintings, majestic Rembrandts portraits, postcards pasted on the wall by Anne Frank in the Secret Annex.

Our students today have an unparalleled opportunity to connect with their peers in other states and other nations, to explore the riches of museums, galleries, and historic sites, to step outside of their local communities and join the global community.

Restricting access to resources by blocking and filtering imposes limits that may not always be in the best interests of the children and young adults in our educational system.

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” - Frank Herbert

"ChristChurch.3" by Lamees.(L.Y.S)