The Matter of Mindful Thinking


There I was reading through my blog, thinking that I need something interesting other than a long winded study. I was stuck on the internet searching back and forth, trying to find a non-repetitive Inspirational thought. Then this photo of a young student and a quote caught my eye, and I finally found an article on The Matter on Mindful Thinking.

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom” — Isaac Asimov

Brand New Images via Getty Images

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stedman-graham/thinking-matters-critical_b_6317198.html

 

Teaching Leadership


Do you think that this person was a leader?

“He was described by a Homestead classmate as kind of a brain and kind of a hippie … but he never fit into either group. He was smart enough to be a nerd, but wasn’t nerdy. And he was too intellectual for the hippies, who just wanted to get wasted all the time. He was kind of an outsider. In high school, everything revolved around what group you were in. and if you weren’t in a carefully defined group, you weren’t anybody. He was an individual, in a world where individuality was suspect.”

In every student we teach, there could be a leader. There could be many in our classrooms, and as educators we need to encourage their individuality and leadership qualities. Should we teach leadership? Is it important to include this subject in all our lessons? Should a teacher be a leader?

I would always encourage my students to be helpful and show respect to all the participants. This will help to form relationships and to learn leadership skills when I give them a task, such as, to organize a group of three and use heavy lifting devices to lift and install heavy equipment.  I feel it is important to implement leadership and build their confidence.

https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/leadership.htm

http://leadershipteacher.webnode.com/activities-lessons/

Retrieved from:  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs#Death

PIDP 3250 Reflective Writing 3


Objective Questions: Do we recognize introverts in the classroom? Do we encourage their learning?

I always have preferred working by myself, which is not possible all the time in our extrovert world. However, if I was assigned a project, I usually ended up leading the group. Am I an introvert? According to Susan Cain (2012), “some people fall smack in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum,” which makes it even more difficult to recognize who is what. As teachers, how can we differentiate introverts and extroverts and those in between, so we can create proper comfortable learning environment for all of them? Otherwise by pushing a group work, the common way of learning in a modern classroom, we ignore the needs of introverts and stimulate only the extroverts, who “really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments” (Cain, 2012).

Reflective Questions:

It was a real “aha moment” for me watching this TED Talk because I have not thought before that it can be an issue for some learners. I wonder if other teachers feel the same way. I can imagine how those students who are introverts suffer and struggle with a group while they want to be separate in a quite environment, so they can perform better and enjoy the process.

I wonder how many of my students are in that “third to a half” of people, and hate the group tasks I impose on them. I agree with Cain (2012) that in order to maximize my students learning abilities, I have to put them in the “zone of stimulation”, which is the best for them (Cain, 2012).

I know the schools are designed around extroverts, my own grandson, for example, who is a real introvert, I believe, often is sent out of the classroom either to the library or the hallway, or even Principal’s office for not being cooperative in a group. Yet his grades are quite high. I can recognize the issue now, but I myself often shared his teacher’s frustration.

Interpretative Questions:

I believe that, as Cain mentioned, most of the teachers think that “the ideal student is an extrovert as opposed to an introvert, even though introverts actually get better grades” (Cain, 2012). This misconception might be a result of extroverts being more talkative and active in class. The teachers usually think that they are on subject, which might not always be the case. There might be “zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas” (Cain, 2012). Creativity happens within individual focused work, and great inventors, such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, who did their best work secretly, prove that.

Just like Cain, I also believe that collaboration and teamwork are still important. I have encouraged my more experienced learners to help out the novice ones, and many times I have seen positive results in partnership.

Decisional Questions:

Now, when I am more aware of the issue, I will pay more attention to it. In my first class, I will add a question into my icebreaker for students to interview each other and introduce their partners to the class. And the question will be: Do you prefer working individually, with a partner or in a group? I will also observe my students’ group work and try to find out who are extroverts and the struggling introverts. I will try to balance group activities with a choice of individual tasks if and when it is possible. I agree with the importance of individual work not only for introverts, but also for extroverts, so they can learn how to study on their own, individually (Cain, 2012).

 

Reference

Cain, S. (2012). The power of introverts: TED Talk [Video file]. Retrieved from

https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts?language=en

PIDP 3250 Reflective Writing 2


Objective Questions: How can we create conditions for students’ engagement?

I agree with Barkley that we cannot transfer the knowledge into students’ brains. We need students to be responsible for their learning, thus we need to create an atmosphere of engagement where students do “more of the work” (Barkley 2010, p. 23). The question is how to do that, especially when some of the students are bored because of their prior knowledge and experience, and others are disengaged because of the lack of prior knowledge and lack of confidence.

Reflective Questions:

By reading these chapters, I realize that there is no one perfect way of engaging the students. What works for some, will not work for others. However, the teachers’ classroom experiences show that creative learning activities can help with engagement. I really like the concept of flexibility which can help with individual problems of student engagement. For example, Strategy 2 “Personalizing Course Delivery” sounds very interesting to me. Barkly, the author of this strategy made the class attendance optional which encouraged students to attend her class “only if they wanted to be there” (p. 55). I see how it can be beneficial for those who have family obligations or who prefer studying at home yet keeping on task with the assignments and deadlines. However, this strategy might not work for many instructors depending on the different institutional attendance polices.

 

Interpretative Questions:

I agree with Judy Baker who teaches courses in health profession that today’s students have easy access to information, so they don’t expect us to deliver information by lecturing, rather they need to learn “how to sift through, evaluate, and apply information” (p. 47).

Another important point is Vygotsky’s (1978) ZPD theory that the “engaged learning occurs in the gap between learner’s current understanding and potential understanding… it straddles both motivation and active learning” (Barkley 2010, p. 27). By creating tasks which are not too challenging or too easy, the teachers can escape anxiousness, boredom, and apathy, in other words escape disengagement (p. 27). In a large classroom, this would be a big challenge, but according to Barkly, there are strategies teachers can use.

Decisional Questions:

For me, the issue of student engagement is very important and I have to admit, challenging. In my Millwright Foundation course, some of the students had an industrial background, while others were fresh out of high school. Their ZPD was on different levels. The challenge was to build the right scaffold for everybody. I needed to group the more experienced students with the unexperienced ones and let them work together on a task. They all would be engaged, and be a part of a learning community.

Another challenge for me was to deliver a large amount of theory before taking my students to the workshop. In the future, instead of having long lectures I will break them up to short modules, which could be delivered by the students as a task. After each module, I will have the students do hands-on activities in the workshop. This way, I will make students responsible for their own learning, and I believe, such active learning will motivate and engage them.

 

Reference

Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: a Handbook for College     

Faculty. San Francisco CA: Jossey-Bass.

PIDP 3250 Reflective Writing 1


Objective Questions: What is student engagement?

I think this question is not as simple as it seems to be. Teachers know that they have to engage students because only those who are truly engaged succeed in learning. Thus, understanding what student engagement means and how to engage the students are two very important questions. When students are passionate, when they want to learn, they put necessary effort and time and enjoy the process of learning as much as the result. So, why some students want to learn, and others do not? What can the educators do in order to make all of their students passionate and excited about learning? (Barkley 2009 cited in Barkley, 2010, p.5). As Barkley defined, students’ engagement is a result of “synergistic interaction between motivation and active learning” (p. 8).

Reflective Questions:

Why some students are highly motivated, and others are not? Why often we spend so much effort and time without any or little success especially on those who are not interested and forget about those who are? I am hoping I will find the answers to these questions, as I have often experienced frustration and hopelessness just like many other instructors. My colleges, I believe, would agree with me that it is the most upsetting situation when our students do not show any interest in the task we have created, working so hard. I often ask myself, what am I doing wrong? Why some are so engaged in this task and others are bored or very much engaged in their cell phones or other unrelated to the task activities? Some teachers would say, let go. You cannot do anything about those who do not want to learn. But isn’t it my obligation to make sure that every single student succeeds? I do have more questions than answers, and I believe student engagement is a challenge we, educators have to understand and successfully overcome.

Interpretative Questions:

 According to Brophy and Cross (2001, p. 11), “expectancy” and “value” drive students’ motivation. Students’ expectations of their performance and how much they value the learning tasks make them either engaged or disengaged. Those who believe in themselves and are confident that they can successfully complete the task spend a lot of effort and enjoy the process. On contrary, those who failed in the past cannot overcome their fears and set themselves up for failure. Their expectations are rooted in the negative past experience.

When I read the descriptions of Covington’s (1993, cited in Barkley 2010, p. 12) four typical student types, I can easily relate some of my students to those patterns. I also clearly understand the concept of “flow” or deep engagement by Csikszentmihaly (1993, 1997, cited in Barkley, 2010, p. 13), when the students are so enthusiastic about the task and so absorbed with it, that they forget about time and effort. Those are the once who not only value the task, but also believe in themselves. I also agree with Wlodkowski (2008, cited in Barkly 2010) that it happens when the goals are clear, the feedback is immediate and continuous, and the challenge is relevant to the skills and knowledge (p. 14).

Decisional Questions:

As Barkly pointed out, the first and the most important step in enhancing the students’ engagement understands the “complexities” and reasons of disengagement (p. 15). By explaining and clearly showing the “value” of the subject and the learning objectives and encouraging students in order to build their confidence, the teachers can improve students’ engagement. Creating an atmosphere to engage in learning creates satisfaction for learning as well as teaching.

 

References

Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: a Handbook for College     

Faculty. San Francisco CA: Jossey-Bass.

Reflections


  • New Insights:

When I was a young man, it was a different time and learning process was of stringent practices and old technology. You would learn what was in written on a blackboard and either do the calculations by hand or use a heavy calculator. I still remember the endless 8mm movies of the 1960s, some with sound, and some so boring that it would turn out to be a snooze time. This is not practiced today; the evolution of instruction has changed and will continue to evolve.

The diversity of students who decide to become a tradesperson has definitely intrigued me. In today’s skilled trade education, we now have a mix of men and women of all ages interested in earning an income, while learning a skilled trade. Some of them, especially the young generation, are very technologically advanced, others who are older, might not understand the concept of using technology in the classroom. For example, I remember how at work when the first laser alignment tools came out they were a real learning curve for the older generation of tradesmen. They were afraid of using the new lasers as they did not trust them. Many times I had to demonstrate how the tools worked, and together we would discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using them.

I see one of my roles as an adult educator to introduce the new technology and teach my learners to be comfortable with blending the old and new technologies, so they can see the values of both. It will be a collaborative learning process when the students and the teacher learn from each other.

  • Trends:

Technology is advancing so fast that the industrial equipment becomes obsolete within 5-10 years. The challenge to protect the environment also encourages companies to install more efficient, modern environmentally friendly equipment. You are constantly being trained to install new technology, and you must be open-minded to the changes.

Another trend I want to mention is the expectation that a tradesperson should have knowledge in other areas. For example, nowadays the equipment is run automatically, which means you need to understand the importance of safe work with equipment controlled electronically. The technology has changed the industrial environment so much: it’s not pulling the switch anymore; it is using a computer to analyze and using special software to start or stop any equipment. As an instructor, I myself have to keep up with these technological changes, so I can introduce them to my students.

  • Web-Conference:

The conferencing with my partner was a very useful experience. We discussed how technology is affecting tradespersons’ attitude, and we agreed that the hardest thing about using new technology is the apathy of the trade’s people who are too comfortable with the results of the instruments. The variations of the environment, including temperature of manufactured products and even extreme lighting or darkness can make tradespersons uncomfortable. Because of the timeframes and constrains to produce the product, they don’t do a proper analysis of the equipment, which affects the quality of work. The tendency is to not be consistent with the basic trials and errors with checking the industrial equipment, such as bearings and seals, shafts, couplings, as well as stress and strain of fixtures and piping arrangements for wear-and-tear.

What I have learned from my partner, who is currently teaching apprentices, is that the students don’t appreciate the basic necessary skills for analyzing and assessing the problems with the equipment. We need to teach the students that the machine is a whole body and needs to be checked for its health.