Friday, March 27, 2009

Reflecting on Wisdom

I began 2009 with a TED presentation that started a personal reflection on Wisdom. For some members of my family, 2009 has been a cross roads - a crucial time to move forward with integrity, dignity and a monumental amount of wisdom. It has been a time of confusion and has seemed like the days have been dragging through the mud.

Today I found this quote from the publisher of Guy Claxton's book "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind - How intelligence increases when you think less" - and I just love it and it seems to fit. I also love that this is something we can bring to our classrooms...

"We assume that the quick-thinking " hare brain" will beat out the slower Intuition of the " tortoise mind." However, now research in cognitive science is changing this understanding of the human mind. It suggests that patience and confusion--rather than rigor and certainty--are the essential precursors of wisdom."

How often do we ask a question of a group of children. Instantly hands go up (sometimes before you have even asked the question) and we respond by randomly calling the name of a child. How much time have we given the group to think? The chosen child 'Uhmm's', bends their head, picks at their toes while the whole group wait. Then we pass them over, maybe even saying "if you don't know don't put your hand up", and choose the person who is high on their knees, pushing their arm into the sky, bursting with the desire to share what they KNOW....

...But what words of wisdom have we missed from the child, temporarily grappling with their bubble of confusion, trying to tap into their limited vocabulary, to express some profound revelation?

If anyone has read Claxton's book on "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind", I would love to hear some authentic reviews.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Best Blog Writing?

What is the best way to blog?
I have only just asked myself this question - and I am not sure I have any answers. At Manaia Kindergarten we blog as we would a daily diary - I guess you could call this the traditional way of blogging and it works well in a kindergarten setting, with the goals of informing parents about the daily/weekly learning experiences that take place at Kindergarten.
But what about professional blogs? As I have mentioned before I have a raft of unpublished (incomplete) blog posts. With a combination of writer's block followed by an onslaught of bloggable thoughts from various sources, I find my blog is feeling my blog posts are rather 'random'. It doesn't seem that my ideas are related or continue from one day to the next. Rather it seems like haphazardly inspired thoughts explored, analysed , written and abandoned. Followed by another random thought. Yes the thoughts may have something of value on their own - but is it best to have one's ideas following a logical pattern? Would that mean more to readers, would they read more posts, and therefor be more involved as a result of time spent on a blog? Or are today's readers more interested in one off blog posts, quick sources of information/discussion? Jumping from Google search to google search?

So - time to consider some organisation of this blog? limits to themes/ideas? a more narrowly defined thread?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

Following on from "When Computers Go Down", I'd like to thank Naketa for her comment and more wholesome look at how we sometimes feel when technology lets us down. Check it out Stuck on an Escalator
- Man!, are we getting lazy?

This reminded me of a movie I watched with my niece at the weekend - Wall-E. After living for many many years on board a High Tech Space Station - the People discover they might be able to return to Earth. After so long without gravity, and in such a High Tech environment human bodies have evolved to such an extent it is doubtful that they could ever walk again... Can they ever live without lazily relying on the technology, that for so long has kept them alive... Just the very idea of taking that first step, of coming back down to earth seems... well to them its a dream come true.

Stanton (Wall-e producer) states "It (the movie) doesn't demonize technology. It only argues that technology if properly used can help humans cultivate their true nature..."

Lest We Forget - Ensure that technology works for the betterment of humanity - such as the character, Wall-e . And let us never forget the amazing abilities our brains and bodies possess on this truly remarkable planet.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When the computers go down!

The beginning of the 2009 year at Manaia Kindergarten, began at first with a bolt of fresh air. We had lovely sunny days and 8 new families at kindergarten. Our roll call topped 23 after a week or so of low numbers. It took just a day for new children to begin to explore the digital world. The cameras came out and newbies were recording their first few days through photography... photographing their first impressions of mat time, photographing the environment and new friends, photographing interests from home and sharing the photos at Kindergarten.

And then the computers went down...

Our two computers we use to create movies, upload to the blog, and email - just crashed.

I felt like we had lost a limb - In the light of our ICT project and new families excited by the possibilities, the lack of two vital computers seemed crippling.

Fortunately at Manaia we do have more than two computers and the laptops were shuffled around to accommodate. Some movies were uploaded on home computers, and we stumbled forward.

But the experience brought interesting reflections. I 'needed' to solve the problems that arose - loading photos so that we could access them again in a logical manner when the computers returned (this took a week), then re-downloading software such as Photostory and Comic Life, discovering, finding, reloading missing plug-ins, sorting codec's (which I still don't understand - never needed them on my mac)... As a problem solver I found it hard at first to move on. If you have ever watched somegreybloke, here he is expressing some of the frustration I felt.. "The Internets gone down" (warning: some inappropriate content - the first minute or two is quite relevant!! PS a new window/tab will open)

You'll be pleased to hear the children at Manaia Kindergarten continued to learn!! A downturn in technology did not equate to a downturn in learning. But it did occur to me - as education becomes more and more entwined in technology - what will happen when the computer/internet goes down? Will WE be able to switch off and learn/teach the old way? Is it even possible!! And can technology cause mass disruption in an education setting? Or is that just scare mongering?

Check out the possibilities via this news caste

- and how this may be played out for young professionals or not so professionals (ok - prehaps a little over the top! warning content may offend)
Certainly a far cry from beginning 2009 with Wisdom!!

These scenarios are good for a laugh - however have you experienced significant downtime with technology in your education setting? Are the above questions relevant? What are your thoughts?