Using Computers to Empower Curious Students
Earlier this week I posted about a low cost computer called Raspberry Pi and how the benefits of cheap computing are enormous. At a $25 price point you’re able to be curious, try new things, and make mistakes without costly consequences. Its high upside and low downside.
A few days later the NY Times ran a story about a local community of mine. Moorseville, NC is a town located to the north of Charlotte. Its on the perimeter of the Charlotte metro area near Lake Norman. They’ve seen some success with using Apple devices as learning instruments. Now, of course there isn’t anything new about that.
What is new, is the way they’re being used. The students are not dependent on teacher prescribed lesson plans. The lessons are part of the computers and the kids are encouraged to problem solve individually, with teams, or by working with a teacher. The students are trusted to drive the learning.
Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the host made a valid point – teaching is an art, not a science. And like any other form of art, the artist must be allowed to create. The instructor can’t control, only guide. Here’s a blurb from the article:
“You have to trust kids more than you’ve ever trusted them,” he said. “Your teachers have to be willing to give up control.”
That was the primary concern that the 60 visitors expressed during their daylong sojourn to Mooresville in November. “I’m not sure our kids can be trusted the way these are,” one teacher from the Midwest said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid trouble back home.
Thomas Bertrand, superintendent of schools in Rochester, Ill., said he was struck by the “culture of collaboration among staff and kids” in Mooresville and would emphasize that as his district considered its own conversion.
“There’s a tendency in teaching to try to control things, like a parent,” said Scott Allen, a high school chemistry teacher in South Granville, N.C. “But I learn best at my own pace, and you have to realize that students learn best at their own pace, too.”
Programs like this are exciting to me. They show an open mind and a realization that the world has changed. Below are the videos of Arne Duncan with Jon Stewart.