Sunday, January 27, 2008

What's Your Take Away...Purpose, Meaning, and Learning

So, I have been listening to and interacting with fascinating and talented educators for the past three days at EduCon2.0 in Philadelphia. I have had the excitement of meeting face to face with much of my blogroll. To hear their ideas, to feel their passion, to be energized by our connections was my hope for the weekend. I was certainly not disappointed. I had hoped that I would have and maximize opportunities to blog my thoughts. That didn't happen. The face to face discussions were too engaging and mesmerizing. So I am going to attempt to kernalize my biggest take-aways as if I had blogged all weekend.

I think my ideas would have focused on three critical concepts- purpose, learning, and meaning. Every single thing we choose to do in education should be prefaced with a strong foundation and understanding of the ultimate purpose. A principal talking about a teacher who is considering beginning to blog wondered what to tell the teacher. Perhaps, it is not a question of what to tell the teacher, but what to ask the teacher. Why is it that you think you want to blog? What purpose will it have for you? With our enthusiasm to have another educator join us in the conversation within the blogosphere, we can lose sight of the fact that it is not about us, but them and their learning.

As I write this post, Scott Meech twitted:Can a teacher in today's classroom be effective without technology?

With a response from lizbdavis@smeech I guess it depends on how we define the goals/purpose of effective teaching/school.

Followed by
chrislehmann@smeech Effective, absolutely yes.

It is not about the technology, it is about defining purpose as the guide for the instructional decisions we make. Which brings me to the second point - learning. If we think we have all
of the answers, then where is the learning? We shouldn't be worried about the right answers, but about asking the right questions. What are the questions we should be asking? Answering the question of what do we want our students to learn and how best can we provide an environment to foster that learning is essential.

Which brings me to the third point - meaning. What factors work to enhance our understanding, to make an experience meaningful for each of us? We must construct meaning
for ourselves, but with the help of a community of learners, meaning is broader, deeper, richer and "wrinkled". A community of learners is supportive, yet challenges each member to reconsider their ideas in light of new wrinkle. The metaphor of playing in a sandbox conjures up images of planning, considering, building, designing, creating, playing, and negotiating. Wouldn't our students learn and understand more in that environment? I know I do. What about you?

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