When I saw that we were reading George Couros’s blog, I got really excited because I can finally say “I know this person!” I’ve known about George since 2011 when he was one of the newbies for the ISTE Newbie conference. The Newbie Project was a program my mom started years ago to raise funds to get people to ISTE, which is an educational technology conference. I got the opportunity to meet George when I went to San Antonio with my family in 2013. I went back to look at the Newbie Project website, and found his old biography. Even back in 2011, you can tell that he is psyched about using technology in the classroom and that he is passionate about students in his school being connected to the world. He was already harping on how it is a teacher’s job to help students find their passions and encourage them.
In his blog post School vs. Learning, George makes the point that learning and just going to school are very different things. If a student is just going to school, they are there to consume information, then regurgitate it for a test. A student is being taught conformity, compliance, and obedience. They are put on a routine and that is the only thing they know. On the other hand, if a student is learning, they are asking questions. They are being taught to think deeper. Learning is occurring all the time, not just in the scheduled class time.
I also read 9 Tenets of Passion-Based Learning. Out of the nine points, only a few really stood out to me. One was that obedience was rewarded. Schools can claim that they want creative thinkers, but in reality, obedience is rewarded while students who dare to question their education are punished. Another point was comparing control narrative to passion narrative in teaching. Assessment-based education stifles teacher creativity just as much as it stifles students. How can we expect students to go above and beyond in creativity if teachers aren’t even allowed creative freedom? This is yet another aspect of how compliance is valued in the classroom and initiative is looked down on. The last point that really stood out was the one about teaching digital citizenship to students and using technology to create a bond between students, teachers, parents, and to an extent the world. Students have the capability to connect to anyone, anywhere in the world. It is up to teachers to teach students how to use that power wisely as well as facilitate those connections.
The last blog I looked at was 21st Century Educating. This one placed a lot more weight on teachers making an engaging space in their classrooms. According to the author, good teachers are supposed to bring the passion to their classrooms. This includes passion about their curriculum, passion for helping students, and also knowledge and encouragement about their student’s passions. So many of these points are key in being a good teacher. Students know when their teacher is not passionate about their subject or their job. If a teacher doesn’t want to be there, then the students definitely won’t want to be.
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