Sunday, 1 April 2018

Lifelong Kindergarten

I have been reading quite a few books lately and thought I would share a few, as I have been moved by so many of them, and keep having the "yes!" moments. This is the first of a few that I had on my list to read. These are just notes and quotes of things I liked or found interesting, or maybe want to read more about, but hopefully it will give you a taste of what it is about and make you want to read it too!

Lifelong Kindergarten
Mitchel Resnick

You can purchase this through quite a few sites, and I certainly do not regret it! The website is here, so you can read more about him and his work. It also has a list of further reading which looks great!

At a conference his nomination for the best invention of the last 1000 years was kindergarten. Only 200 years ago it was very different from traditional schooling. Froebel invented this approach knowing that the broadcast approach wouldn't work for 5yr olds.
Kesnick is convinced that "kindergarten-style learning is exactly what is needed to help people of all ages develop the creative capacities needed to thrive in today's rapidly changing society."
He discusses Froebels approach and the troubling trend of more and more kindergartens doing math worksheets and phonics becoming more like school. He argues for the opposite that school should become like kindergarten.
He thinks of the creative learning process in terms of a creative learning spiral pg 11 and discusses how this works.
One of the recurring themes in the book is the Scratch community. He is a founder of Scratch and uses it often as an example of the type of learning he is talking about.
The development of Scratch has been fixed by the 4Ps of creative learning...
Some discussion around the difference between techno-enthusiasts and the techno-skeptics. Is interesting with him looking at pro and con of both, agreeing and disagreeing with both as well and giving some interesting points to think about. I like "people tend to forget that crayons and water colours were voted as 'advanced technologies' at some point in the past".

The next chapters go into more depth on the 4Ps.
Projects get a lot of information about the maker movement and he discusses the learning that is had from making, in particular with Lego and logo, computer program for Lego. This is a link to the foundation with lots of resources on as well. He also goes through how project based learning teaches students concepts in meaningful contexts rather than in disconnected problems in more traditional learning.
Passion chapter talks a lot about Computer Clubhouse and the students who would go there after school for hours and being engaged with learning and being creative.
"passion is the fuel that drives the immersion-reflection cycle"
This is for all ages, from small projects to a thesis, if you are not passionate about it, you won't persist and persevere through the challenges you come across.
There is a section on gamification and badges, the effect of giving rewards being negative when creativity is involved, the lure of reward or payment makes the focus and doesn't allow for creativity, just an end product.
"if your goal is to train someone to perform a specific task at a specific time, then gamification can be an effective strategy... But if your goal is to help people develop a life long learners, then different strategies are needed."
His views on personalised learning are aimed at giving the learner choice and control over their learning.
Mentions Karen Brennan exploring the relationship between structure and learner agency. Difference between an online Scratch community which has lots of agency and little structure, they can create what they want, to school classrooms usually with lots of structure and little student agency. She argues that the best learning environment would be one that "employ structure in a way that amplifies learner agency"
Peers - Design of the space is important if you want peers to work together. Small clusters of computers, tables to sit and discuss ideas and room to move around are important as well as sample project ideas and the place for them to get ideas from. Priority being that they choose who to work with on same passions.
A big influence on Resnick s work is Seymour Papert's book Mindstorms which talks about Brazilian samba schools where they go to create music and dance for festivals. It is interesting to read how he talks this idea and has used it in the design of Scratch. I read a sort of translation of Mindstorms which was quite interesting, you can read it here.

Openness is talked about, sharing with others and remixing projects. This can also lead to controversy and has done so in the Scratch environment where their policy is that all projects are covered by a Creative Commons Attribution license which means you can change anything as long as you give credit.
We have been brought up in schools to always do our own work but that's not how the scientific community works, they share ideas and build on what others have done. We don't teach that.
The Scratch community has a strong culture of care and has guidelines to encourage this. They are told to be respectful, constructive, honest and help keep the site friendly. They unpack these for all members.
There is a good section on the lessons they have learnt around having this open and sharing community with both the pitfalls and the successes.
There is a section on teaching and how they train their mentors for the Codeclub. Often teachers do one of two things, deliver information and instruction or leave children to do it themselves, neither of which works.
Computer Clubhouses try and blur the lines between teaching and learning. They teach their students to "serve as catalysts, consultants, connectors and collaborators within the community, helping others to learn while continuing their own learning."

Hole in the wall experiment by Sugata Mitra - wonder when learners need support and guidance?

" Play doesn't require open spaces or expensive toys; it requires a combination of curiosity, imagination and experimentation "
Playpen vs playground
Playpen environment with limited options and a lack of risk and creative opportunities.
Playground they have room to move. They can work with others and be creative. Lego is playpen when following instructions to build something. Can be great to gain expertise in building and learning new techniques but if you want creativity step by step instructions then it should be the beginning of something, not the final destination.
He talks about tinkering being between playing and making. People tinker around and make mistakes and try new things. Making prototypes and testing and trying again. A great way to develop creative thinking.

Dennie Wolf and Howard Gardner identified two main styles of play, patterners and dramatists. Patterners love patterns and structure and will play with blocks and puzzles, dramatists love the story and social interaction, more likely to play with dolls and animals.

Wellesleyrobotic design studio more suited for dramatists, MIT robot design comp for patterners. Need to have both styles. Some are planners , some tinkerers. Some take more time than others. Need experience in all styles as some are more use than others in various situations.

KenRobinson emphasises the importance of making mistakes. Coding is an easy place to do that. Debugging helps that process and there is more than one way to get an answer.
He talks about how to assess creativity and how schools tend to focus on things they can measure rather than the things that will make a difference in kids lives.
Reggioclassroom always making learning visible.

Ten tips for learners, based on a list made by students and then he has added comments:
  • Start simple
  • Work on things that you like
  • If you have no clue what to do, fiddle around
  • Don't be afraid to experiment -I like the comment on here that is useful to be able to follow instructions but if you only ever do that you will get stuck when you come across something new that has no instructions
  • Find a friend to work with and share ideas
  • It's ok to copy stuff to give you an idea
  • Keep your ideas in a sketchbook
  • Build, take apart, rebuild
  • Lots of things can go wrong, stick with it
  • Create your own learning tips

Ten tips for parents and teachers
Based on his creative spiral he gives 2 tips for each component.
I really like the idea of extending project time where they can work for weeks on projects in school.

Ten tips for designers and developers who want to engage children in this sort of learning. He talks about the difference from deliver to enable, low floors, high ceilings and wide walls.

Good final section is about how we can break the barriers to enable lifelong kindergarten.
There is also a great further reading section.

Wow - I was very inspired by a lot of this and want to read more, and do more. Very keen to learn more about the Computer Clubhouse (there are 3 in New Zealand...) and read all the articles on the links I've put in. Lots to do....

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