Monday, October 5, 2009

The Enduring Value of Print in Teaching and Learning

One of the emails I look forward to is from Education on the Plate, -A passionate lock at learning, teaching, eating and drinking. The blog is maintained by Deven Black.

In response to today's post, I commented with what I hope is a useful description of the role Print can play in high school education.

I posted:
I want to point to one of lines in our post and argue that it shows how important print can be in changing minds and in education.

“to read the page of the bill that specifically prohibits that.”

The Print forces a closed mind to confront a new idea in words. Unlike talk, it’s hard to ignore, mis interpret or talk over. But, the real enabler is your son, the teacher. By his presence and attitude, he created the expectation of a response. No forcing, no threatening, just the mutual expectation.

To me, it seems a perfect demonstration of creating the “teachable moment” It helps explain the failure of multi-media to change the daily classroom experience for the student.

A trusted teacher can create the expectation of a response to new ideas represented by words in print. Education is about integrating new ideas to modify old ones. But, it means that a student or any person has to admit they are wrong.

Given how ferociously people fight the experience of being wrong, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it happens so infrequently.

The takeaway is that students in a classroom need more than anything an “expectation of creating a response.” Writing assigned and not returned with comments the next day are often worse than no assignment at all.

Of course, it’s a daunting task. But I think that twitter can help make it manageable.

Consider, a one pager handed out to students. It has two or three 140 chrcters assertions about whatever. The assignment is tweet what suprised you, or what you disagree with.

Then after the conversation has evolved, putting it in print to distribute to the students in the class.

When the student is forced to edit down blablabla into 140 characters, it creates a word object that can be responded to with manageable effort. The speed and appropriateness of the response can train the student to know that someone is listening.

My experience is that as soon as students see that someone is listening, their behavior can change amazingly quickly.

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