Redefining Hacking

Photo CC- By Sean MacEntee

Growing up, education and the process of learning always seemed pretty black-and-white to me. Students go to elementary school and learn “the basics.” Then they go to middle school where they make a gradual transition to high school. I remember the overwhelming joy I felt when I got to put my belongings in my very own locker for the first time in sixth grade. Then in high school, students are supposed to decide what subject they are best at and choose a career based on this discovery.

There is always that dreaded question. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I think Logan Plante put it perfectly when he said that people should just want to be happy and healthy when they “grow up.” Also, what does that even mean? Who is considered a “grown up?” Is it when you leave home and go to college? Is it when you graduate college and get a job, or is there just some point in your life where you seem to have it (whatever “it” is) figured out?

Either way, how should kids have even the slightest clue about what they want to for the rest of their lives when all they have experience in is reading picture books and learning long division? Even when students are in high school, they arguably still don’t have enough experience to make this decision. Logan seemed to be extremely wise for his age, and it seemed to be because of his unique schooling. Also, in last week’s TEDtalk, Ken Robinson discussed how traditional schools are educating students to be college professors. It seems that these students are supposed to excel in one or more subjects and take this specific talent/skill as far as they can. However, many people are now arguing that education shouldn’t be this way. Instead of telling students how to think, how to learn, or what they should do for the rest of their lives, we as teachers should be teaching them how to be individualistic thinkers and kindling not only their existing talents but their interests as well.

I think Bud Hunt had noteworthy ideas for educating students through making, hacking, and playing. Out of those three, I have personally found the most success with making. No matter what I am doing, I am so much more motivated if I can see my product or my progress, whether it is in sports, class, playing an instrument, etc. Before watching the TEDtalk and reading the article, I had only heard the term “hacking” when talking about mischievous computer activity, but I think it is very important for today’s education. I think schooling has fallen into routine, and I think it needs to be “hacked” for students to get the most out of their experience. Before, I had also only heard about learning through play with elementary students, but I think that “playing” with literature in a high school English class can also be very beneficial. I’m not extremely familiar with this term, but I intend to learn more about it and how it can be applied to a high school class.

No matter now education is reformed, I believe it needs to be changed to truly benefit the students even though it will be more difficult and inconvenient to teach this way, and I am excited to be a part of this change.



Centering on Essential Lenses

Nunca dejar de aprender (Never Stop Learning)

Photo CC- By Barry Pousman

I have talked with many people who have taken this course in previous semesters, and this segment of the class is what I have been most excited about. There has been many skills I wish I would have learned or activities I wish I would have done, but I can never seem to find enough time or the right time to fulfill these desires. The extraordinary thing about this assignment is that it forces students to partake in activities they (a) are very interested in and (b) wouldn’t normally find time to do.

There was a lot of ideas I came up with and that friends suggested for this assignment. One was learning to do makeup well. I have scrolled past countless tutorials on Facebook, but I can never find the time or motivation to attempt these new looks myself. It doesn’t help that I give myself about thirty seconds between the time I wake up and the time I scurry out the door in the morning. Another idea I came up with was dedicating two hours of my week to reading and digging into literature that challenges me and broadens my horizons. I have recently discovered an addiction I have to ordering books, and I now have countless unread books sitting on my desk. I have also been an on-and-off piano player since I was six years old, and I think the hours would fly by while sharpening my piano-playing skills. I have recently also had the desire to learn the ukulele. I have heard it is one of the easier instruments to learn, and the sound of it is really beautiful. A friend of mine also suggested doing yoga. I feel sore most of the time from volleyball, and this activity would help alleviate some of that soreness as well as improve my flexibility.

While all of these are suitable choices and things I hope to do one day, I ultimately decided to learn a new language, Spanish in particular.  My step-dad is an elementary principal in a heavily Hispanic school district, and he has always stressed the relevance of knowing Spanish for people working in education. I have had a desire to learn a new language for a while now, but the thought of it has always intimidated me. Spanish-speaking students make up a large percentage of the ELL students in this country, so this ability will look great to future hiring principles. More importantly, this skill I am planning on acquiring will help me connect to and help all of my students, and not just the ones I share a first language with.