I was very interested to read the attached Mindshift article about how we view student academic struggle in schools. Eastern cultures appear to see struggle as an integral part of the learning process, whereas the article states that western cultures see struggle as a weakness, or something needing immediate correction. It would be interesting to have a discussion linking these perspectives with Angela Duckworth’s idea on developing grit.
Mindshift article HERE
There is a tendency among younger children to compartmentalize what they have learned in each discipline, and not to stretch one piece of learning into another discipline. A very interesting and engaging project is to ask the children to become travel agents, and plan a vacation trip of their own. In this way, students learn to navigate the quite complicated world of airline and hotel websites, choose destinations based on political safety, convert currencies, look at maps, research cities/destinations on the web, plan a budget, and learn something about a country or region. Asking children to do all this in a single project engages them fully in the learning process, and brings mathematics into geography, technology into budgeting and so on. Later, children can use these research skills in many ways on other projects. The joy of early learning is to master adaptable skills which are useful throughout life, but particularly as they progress through their formal learning environment.
TRAVEL PROJECT # 1
You are to become a travel agent. Book your ideal holiday vacation to a destination of your choice. You must give an itemized budget for your trip. Total available dollars: $8000.00
You may consider yourself a single adult for the purposes of this exercise.
You need to:
(1) Decide which time of year you will be traveling
(2) Find an airline. Ascertain rates for travel.
(3) Find a hotel. Get rates for thirteen or fourteen nights.
(4) Find what you will be doing and eating. Include in budget.
You need to write an essay on your project. Be sure to include:
History and geography of the place you are visiting
Write a detailed budget
Find an example of the following:
A mathematician or scientist
Describe something about their life or work. What contribution did they make to society? How does their work impact you?
Travel Project # 2
Travel to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World using the least amount of money, and in the shortest amount of time.
You must spend one night in each place.
How much more engaging would our teaching of young people be if we paid careful attention to how we as humans process sensory inputs, delivered an understanding to our students of how our brains work, and had a healthy grasp of the connection between the brain, emotions, and feelings?
I was fascinated to read about the work of Antonio Damasio in the MIT Technology Review magazine (June 17, 2104) recently. We all realize the vital importance of grit, tenacity and dogged determination in learning. However, being able to connect our understanding of the fundamentals of brain mechanics and human perception with the curriculum is very compelling.
Click HERE for MIT Technology Review:
Click HERE for TED talk
Click HERE for AMAZON