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Learning at its Best, Philosophical Meanderings

5 questions about everything

1. Why don’t schools accept music performance as evidence of students’ math achievement?

What’s to stop you from saying a competent cover of The Joker earns some kid a B in coordinate graphing across multiple x-axes, counting by fractions, and calculating sums using functions all at the same time? Can you do that? Isn’t that automaticity?

2. Is there a “draw-aloud” accommodation for kids taking standardized tests?

What good is it to know that a kid is a kinesthetic or spatial or visual learner if you give primacy to reading and writing on the assessment that represents his or her learning in your class? Can you assess the same skills from making writing out of reading as you can from writing about reading? Is the point of our enterprise to learn or to learn to read and write, and how long will it be that way given Moore’s Law and whatnot? Is the point access or replication? How do we see something new while dissecting the same models of thinking we’ve prized for centuries?

3. How would students model your class in the Forge?

How much of all this is about what the kids can’t do, and how much of it is about what we can’t understand or predict? Is the kid spending hours at a time designing video game levels to share over the Internet really doing a worse job than we are of preparing him or her for a career? Do we hand him or her Watership Down or Game Programming for Teens? Do we assess his or her work, or do classmates? How do we help kids scratch beneath the surface of, say, Scratch, without knowing how? Alternately, if you lit crit a Master Chief, does he not wax moralistic and civic? (I, for one, am patently unready to become a cyborg super-soldier for my planet, but maybe somebody else will need to heed that call.)

4. If you had to give up your classroom, would you be sad?

Do you need a central location from which to decentralize teaching and learning? Could you solve the teacher-pay problem by sufficiently decentralizing yourself into subscriptions? Would your division let you? What if you agreed to profit-share? Would you work at the BuzzDing! Virtual School?

5. Who are the nine people you need around you to change teaching and learning, and have you asked if you can work together yet?

Have you rented out the Hall of Justice yet? If you had to give up your Hall of Justice, would you be sad?


About Chad Sansing

I teach for the users. Opinions are mine; content is ours.


10 thoughts on “5 questions about everything

  1. Great questions to provoke a discussion! I especially like the number 9. I will have to ponder this one some more.

    As far as number 4 goes I remember how devastated I was leaving my classroom in Texas behind. I used technology then but the classroom itself held so many memories. Many of my students wanted to stay connected so we did through an online platform. They had graduated from high school so at the time I felt that was okay to do. Five years later I still speak to my students worldwide who are in Japan, China, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, the US, and other various places. I thought English language learners for years so they were widespread to begin with. Now I have a wiki with students so the classroom is not my main area of teaching. I would miss my wiki a lot more than I would miss my classroom at this point. I think this is due to making the wiki a collection of the students work and my own. I see this as the real learning place because I learned a long time ago that in a classroom, you can’t keep the projects around for years like you can with an online learning environment.

    Posted by Shelly Sanchez Terrell | October 5, 2010, 10:59 pm
    • Thanks for sharing your insights between your F2F and wiki spaces, Shelly. I don’t think many teachers in schools have a good idea of how permanent and personal technology-mediated learning spaces can feel. I kind of get it, but would be curious to teach a course entirely virtually. Coöp seminars, anyone?


      Posted by Chad Sansing | October 7, 2010, 3:39 pm
  2. Chad, Just added Hall of Justice to my favs on YouTube. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t dropped enough acid to do justice to your posts. But I’m working on it.

    I love Question 5 especially. I like the idea of asking 9 people around me how we can do the work together. I think this kindda explains what I’ve been up to all these years. Without knowing it. I’m working on it.

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | October 7, 2010, 9:14 am
  3. I actually like a central location. I like the notion that I connect on a deep level from the physical space we share together. I just wish we could meet at different times and in different locations as well. Ideally, I could take my twenty-eight students and spend four hours a day with a different group of fourteen while the rest of the students go out and do something. Ideally, we could spend some time at the food bank or out in the city painting a mural or a few of them could wander off to a garden and plant something.

    But I still would want my twenty-eight. I still would want the tight community that we are forming and yes, I still would want a common meeting place that we share as our space.

    Posted by johntspencer | October 9, 2010, 5:41 pm
    • Thanks for sharing this insight on community, John.

      I’ve bounced around between rooms a lot within the schools at which I’ve worked. I think in 10 years at 3 schools I’ve taught in 7 rooms. I tend to think that the work I share with students brings us together more than anything else, but that might be because of my moves.

      At the very least I can authoritatively say that if you can’t get a giant room, a room with a kitchen is best.


      Posted by Chad Sansing | October 10, 2010, 7:23 pm
    • I agree with you John…. common meeting place say a home base, but like you wish school would see themselves more flexible and open. A merging of the Unschooling of Carlos and his daughters, John Holt and the deschoolers, and the social community of school. I think there are school like this and believe that how schools are going to evolve…. as I write my mission statement for my future school, I will work this type of description in!

      and Chad!

      Oh all classrooms should have Kitchens…. I am designing on into all my future rooms….. Dewey talked about how most learning could start from learning to cook eggs and veggies…. I so agree. Did you get to help design your school for learning.


      Posted by dloitz | October 10, 2010, 8:19 pm
      • David, we’ve adapted to the space granted us by our division. We are guests in a host middle school. As test prep has driven scheduling and grouping at such schools, vocational-technical course enrollment has declined. Consequently, last year I had the tech room, which was huge and prime for flexible learning space and stations. This year I have the home ec room, which is smaller, but it’s instructional portion is big enough for our small class sizes and it also serves as a social hub for the school, functioning as one of our dining rooms during pancake breakfasts and lunch. There’s a relaxed vibe to the room that meshes well with my current teaching style.


        Posted by Chad Sansing | October 11, 2010, 1:05 pm
  4. I love the idea of the relaxed vibe, not in a lazy sort of way but in the the lack of imposed stress.
    Meaningful and engaged Busyness can still have the relaxed vibe, that is what I see as a good measure of meaningful work.

    This is how I see my own style of teaching and sometimes I have been told I don’t have good classroom management skills, but I would counter I am not in the job of management, I am not here to control,but to be a guide and help structure learning.

    I can picture your classroom and style much better now….thanks for letting me visit!


    Posted by dloitz | October 11, 2010, 1:49 pm
    • This idea came from a great faculty meeting we had this morning:

      Rooms that sometimes appear chaotic or disordered because everyone is learning or making something differently are actually quite demanding (of student and teachers) and sophisticated in that a unique system of freedom and accountability has been created to help each learner succeed.

      I hope my classroom looks relaxed in that I’m not running around with my hair on fire (sorry, Rafe) making sure everyone is doing the same thing. I hope it looks engaging, nevertheless, in that each student is comfortable with the combined level of work and support he or she has negotiated with me.


      Posted by Chad Sansing | October 11, 2010, 2:34 pm

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