Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Interest-based Learning & Constructionism

Creative Learning - Weeks 2 and 3
Huh? What? No - I didn't fall asleep in class. We took a family trip! (I.e. look for a vacation math post soon.)

One of the many things to catch up on is the Creative Learning Class. (See Week 1.) Phil Aldridge has been a better student - maybe you should copy his notes, instead.

Week 2 was a video session with Joi and Mimi Ito on interest based learning, main reading the Foreword to Papert's Mindstorms, and the Macarthur Foundation Connected Learning report. More resources linked from the course syllabus.

Video Notes: The Itos talk about informal education. Interestingly a lot of former physics majors who lost interest when teachers couldn't explain things intuitively and relied on formalism and symbolic manipulation. They want education to be motivated, and recognize that learning can be motivated by interest and relevance, but attention to diversity is important. Don't feel like they addressed well the questions about how do you deal with less productive interests and time scale (can't learn-on-demand the night before a recital). Important point: have to have a broad range of acceptable work and kinds of recognition. Broader mission, learning, social networking, traditional rewards. (Again the gamer types.) Joi:"The whole idea of higher ed... is that you need a standardized degree ... so it's all about individual standardized skills." Beware curricularization of all of student interests. Mimi cited Katie Salen's schools that have boss levels after the standards required units. Since academia is geared to formal, structured thinking, those are the learners that flourish. It just doesn't motivate a lot of kids.

Assignment: Read Seymour Papert’s essay on the “Gears of My Childhood” and write about an object from your childhood that interested and influenced you (and share with your group). Also try the Marshmallow Challenge. (Done that, never wrote it up. Dave has a nice piece on it, though.)

Haven't seen too much activity from my group yet.

It was a straight line kind of building and play.
 I was really fortunate to have so many building tools/toys. I'm old enough that video games weren't dominating, but a curiosity. Mattel handheld football was the star, unbelievably. Sometime later Intellivision, but that was more my younger brother's speed. Erector set, Lincoln logs, and, ultimately, LEGO.

Really any robot, really,
though Zeroids and Robot were my faves.
Thinking about it, though, my play was always story motivated: the things I was building were for Micronauts, early action figures and any kind of robot. To some extent it's the same now, where teaching becomes the story that lets me build the things that are fun to build and play with. (Games, GeoGebra, cool math ideas and relationships, etc.) Looking back at these things was suprisingly emotional and I still have strong connections to them.

Recommendation: read Papert.

Week 3 video chat with Leah Buechley, Dale Dougherty (Maker movement) on Constructionism (not -ivism but -ionism), read Papert Mindstorms chapter 1 and The Children's Machine chapter 7 (on instructionism vs constructionism). Also of note: Maker-Education Initiative.

Papert quote from Mindstorms, Chapter 1: "But 'teaching without curriculum' does not mean spontaneous free-form classrooms or simply 'leaving the child alone.' It means supporting children as they build their own intellectual structures with materials drawn from the local culture. In this model, educational intervention means changing the culture, planting new constructive elements and eliminating noxious ones." There was a quote in The Children's Machine I had to posterize.

Video: They discussed the value beyond just making, and that 'just making' misses the point. That is human culture. The difference between learning by doing and learning by making, or why making is not just an activity. "School is famous for being overly structured... do all 9 steps and everyone gets the same result. (Barbie, anyone?) Blend maker cultures to appeal to a wider variety of learners; computation, electronics and textiles or paper, for example. Maker movement won't be equitable and diverse until its part of school. Concern for efficiency is a problem, as is emphasis on content that will make money. The old game design saw came up again, too: too often making is designed to hit a content objective rather than the content being involved in the making the learners are doing.

Part of what they said reminded me of a Star Trek exhibit at the science museum that had a section for what toys the engineers on the Apollo program played with as children.  Lots of construction.

Assignment: For this week's activity, create an Scratch project about things you like to do, then share it. (See 180ish projects in a Scratch forum.

This assignment reminded me of the Discovery Channel theme song.  I love my family and spending time with them, playing games and also making some. I love mathematics and I love teaching, too. Good writing - in book or film or tube.  I love music and any form of art, time in my faith life, that should have a part. Not much here that I can leave out, I guess learning is what it's all about. Boom-de-yada...

Press the green flag to play. Fun to make, once I figured out to do the image changes as costume changes for a sprite. I think I'd like to have Terry Gilliam's old job, if anybody wants to pay me to do it. 

1 comment:

  1. In your experience what is it about the audio visual experience that helps students connect on the level that you described in your article?