EPSY556 Week 2 Reading Thoughts

First… I found the Robinson video to be most compelling.  Not only is the man a gifted public speaker, but he seems to have a firm grasp on the link between creativity and education.  The story he related about his colleague, the world renowned choreographer, and how she was able to soar to success in her calling–dance–was both inspiring and disconcerting.  Inspiring when one considers her achievements because her aptitude was identified and nurtured early…disconcerting when one considers all the others whose potential and dreams go unrealized because they are shuffled through a system that rewards conformity and antiquated thinking.  I am planning on reading Robinson’s book–and I hope to find it as engaging as his video presentation.

I also found the “Toward a New Golden Age in American Education” compelling and motivating.  Though I couldn’t help but read it with a little cynicism because some of it seemed to be propaganda lauding the “No Child Left Behind” initiative–an initiative that has been met with frustration and skepticism by many teachers with whom I’ve discussed this.  Some critics claim “NCLB” doesn’t really seek to solve the core problems in our educational system, comparing it to a temporary band-aid that mandates excessive unnecessary testing and lowers standards to meet lowering expectations.  Granted, this may be a biased take on it all–I really don’t know enough about “No Child Left Behind” to judge it impartially for myself.  It may be a case of teachers resenting being told how to do their jobs.  To me, any system that seeks more exhaustive scrutiny of student performance and aptitude is a step in the right direction, if nothing else.  NCLB aside, I found the “Golden Age” report to be hopeful in scope as it seemed–to me, at least–to be on the right track by identifying technology as key not only to the future of education, but also to elevating the American educational system to where it needs to be, especially when viewed from a global perspective.  I also found the statistics about the educational goals of the “Millennials” to be most encouraging–as well as the highlighted examples of school districts across the country that have achieved extraordinary success by effective investment and implementation of technology into their educational programs.

One idea that really captured my attention while reading the “Learning for the 21st Century” piece, was that of learning skills.  So much of traditional education is simple memorization and recitation of facts without the next step of analyzing and evaluating this information and applying it to different contexts.  And it sounds to me like learning skills is an attempt toward teaching metacongnition skills–which will be even more valuable as the future takes shape, in my opinion.  It’s always been my contention that when it comes to most jobs, the basic duties and tasks of that job can be taught to most employees, for the most part (with the exception of highly specialized pursuits, like neurosurgery).  But the truly valuable employees are those that possess the more intangible skills, like an honest work ethic, the ability to work well with colleagues, the ability to adapt to new environments and readily learn new skills.  And it sounds like learning skills would encompass some of these intangibles.  Reading this article also got me thinking about the education/industry partnership, and how they both stand to benefit from this relationship.  Of course, industry devoting resources to education is a public relations win, but it is also an investment for them–albeit a longer-term investment.  If they are able to raise the bar of future prospective employees by helping improve education, then they stand to receive a return on their investment.

As for the “Web 2.0…The Machine is Us/ing Us” video…  I’ve seen this a number of times already, and it never fails to get me thinking about where all this technology is leading us, and it will continue shape us–and how we will continue to shape it.  A deceptively simple video in design with a very profound message.

Overall, some very interesting and compelling reading/viewing this week.  Motivation for those of us with some technological expertise to make an even more concerted effort toward aiding in educational reform…