WOW! AGAIN, WOW!!!

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Are you familiar with Quora – the website and app? It was recommended in a recent discussion that I check it out. Which I did. It’s a site where anyone can submit, read, answer, and rate (upvote, downvote) questions and answers on topics that interest you. I registered, completed my profile, and chose topics that interest me. For example, I checked the civil war among others because of my strong interest in anything dealing with this part of USA history.

So, now I can go to the Quora website / app and find questions associated with my topics of choice – as well as those aligned with my profile. For example, I see questions associated with Lehigh University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Connecticut because of my profile. And I get questions (I presume because of my faculty career) dealing with major college period choices and their impact on life and career beyond college.

These questions have really astounded me – to say the least. A few examples: How do I get over lost years (2 years) in college? Why is everything in life a competition? How do I find my real purpose in life? Should I prioritize earning money or getting a education in my early 20s? How do I deal with failure as I have failed in every field of life? Get the drift? To be sure, some of these are likely from individuals seeking to ask that question from hell, the one that didn’t come to mind until they decided “I need a really good question.” But I’m sure that some of them represent true personal concerns. Hence this post’s title – WOW!!!

Some of these honest questions, maybe most, are from people at troubled points in their life. Regardless of whether they should be “there” at this point in their life or not, they are AND they need to get help – including but certainly not exclusively from the Quora answers and comments!

Here’s my real concern: Where were the family, teachers, clergy, and community that should have facilitated the development of skills / responsibilities these people need to at least recognize these questions and concerns? And, if the answer is something similar to “We did our part to help them develop those skills” – my response is “No you didn’t; you need to revisit those efforts and revise how you can really make a difference!!!” Your lack of success and all of our lack of understanding that we need to be more vigilant are the reasons, to me at least, there are so many instances of devaluing one’s value and ability to contribute, leading too often (once is too often) to the suicides or law-breaking behaviors we read and hear about so often. Please note I’m not pointing fingers; I include myself when I say WE can and must do better. Contributing to Quora postings might be a good effort to add.

As an educator, I am a absolute believer that the number one goal of formal education must be the facilitating of all students’ development of at least four skills: Effective Learning, problem identifying / solving, communicating, and working in groups. Absolute, number one… Troubling situations / concerns in anyone’s life is, indeed, a problem to be solved! With these skills, our students and all of us can recognize the existence of the problem at least. And our students and all of us can get any assistance we need to deal with this problem.

As always, thanks for Considering this post. If you have thoughts, feedback is always sought If you believe it has value, I’d appreciate your sharing it with others.

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The Learning Mindset

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I have a few “never miss” blog posts. You know, the ones that we subscribe to and look forward to Considering carefully and deeply. One such blog is Blue Cereal Education, written by Dallas Koehn, a colleague that I met via the #OklaEd Twitter chat (Sunday evenings at 9:00 Eastern Time). One of his posts  recently encountered was about Pre-AP classes and their importance. What follows in this blog post are comments that I uploaded to his post. I recommend that particular post and his blog in general to your Consideration. My thoughts / comments:

Once again, you’ve “hit the nail on the head” as the saying goes. I had never encountered ‘Pre-AP’ until this post. Unlike you, I’m not a fan of the College Board, its programs and materials. In fact, I’m most bothered by the scripted approach to the AP classes. I’m bothered that any people would believe they ‘know’ what students should truly understand and be able to use. I’m bothered that they seem to think lesson plan delivery is the way to get there. I’m bothered that they believe a multiple-guess exam is the way to assess the level of learning. BUT I do like the “Blue Cereal Education” thinking on their Pre-AP program –> another opportunity for teachers to hopefully facilitate Effective Learning and Joy of Learning habit development for young students (as I interpret your points at least).

I love most of this post and your knack for expressing your thoughts so well. But this paragraph in particular grabbed me: “I certainly understand how difficult it is to lead a class through an advanced curriculum and facilitate higher level thinking skills when some members of that class lack the knowledge, know-how, or mindset to follow along. Since time immemorial, teachers have been fighting the sand trap of ‘teaching to the middle’ – losing the low, boring the high, dragging half the middle bravely towards adequacy.” For me, the most critical and difficult issue is the students’ mindsets.

I struggle as I expect you and many educators do with the issue of a student’s Effective Learning / Joy of Learning (how to learn, wanting to learn) mindset. Those that have it are the ideal students we like to work with – regardless of lack of knowledge or know-how, issues teachers are expected to facilitate. Those that don’t have it somehow need help to get it… But there is no “Mindset Online Store” we can direct them to in order for them to get it! Sadly, they don’t have it, most likely, because their family / neighborhood culture doesn’t promote it.

So the best ‘answer’ is to somehow to facilitate culture change, sadly something that cannot happen quickly. One thought I’ve expressed often is to promote local dialogue led by LOCAL PEOPLE possessing the mindset – believing that they have the best potential to influence those who don’t possess the mindset. It’s what I refer to as the Spider Plant model. Local believers (spider plants) reach out (send out runners) and change non-believers to believers (starting new spider plants) – and the cycle continues. But, again, this takes time… I don’t know any alternative.

Critical, however, is that teachers from pre-school on MUST also build upon even the smallest glimmer of motivation. The Spider Plant model can and will work within the classroom regardless of level as well.

I’m often asked about the LOCAL PEOPLE I mention. They do exist. It might be the parent, grandparent, or uncle of the child; it might be a member of the clergy, a local business person, a community center staff member, a ‘non-affiliated’ local citizen, an older mindset-bearing student, …. But we read / hear about them frequently. I’ve got to believe they are in ALL local neighborhoods.

Great Blue Cereal blog post and my thoughts on an incredibly difficult but oh so important issue. I and, I expect, Dallas would welcome your thoughts and feedback! Thanks as always for reading our posts.