Personal Learning Philosophy 2.0 (The Global One-Room Schoolhouse from J. Seely Brown)

My learning philosophy from 10 weeks ago hasn’t changed much. I chose to begin my video with a quote from Williams Butler Yeats, which also happens to be the first thing I wrote in my Personal Learning Philosophy v1. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” This idea is extremely important to me and resonates with me on many levels. I mentioned before that my early educational experiences were mainly “filling of a pail”. Pretty boring. It almost feels like a chore. “Son, go and fetch some water!” No thanks. But when that switch turned, and I became excited about learning, something sparked inside of me. From that moment on, I was all about feeding my fire of learning. I started with this because it takes passion and excitement to get to this point where learning becomes fuel to your fire. When you can infuse excitement, passion, and relevancy into education, that is how you create engagement in learners.

I would have to say that my ideas around learning and education are in perfect alignment with John Seely Brown’s “The Global One-Room Schoolhouse” Vimeo video from his “Entrepreneurial Learner” keynote at DML2012. He talks about play as a “kind of a permission to fail, fail, fail, again and get it right.” I feel that this is incredibly important to give students a permission to fail, to give them an environment where they feel safe to question the status quo or even the teacher’s expertise. He later says in the video that “the key part of play is a space of safety and permission.” Brown also talks about epiphanies.

If we can create one epiphany for one child, that epiphany lasts for life for that kid. Brilliant teachers are brilliant in being able to create epiphanies for kids. How do we think about that? And how do we use play as a way to amplify the chance for that to happen.

What if every teacher’s goal was to create an epiphany for each one of their students? Maybe some teachers do strive for this. But I’m willing to be that this isn’t even on the radar of the majority of teachers. I want to cover two last quotes from Brown in his video:

In a world of constant change, if you don’t feel comfortable tinkering, you’re going to feel an amazing state of anxiety.

I love this idea because it’s so true. Everything around us is in a constant state of flux, and if you can’t adapt and be able to tinker with new technologies, it’s going to be a tough world. If we are teaching our students to tinker, to play, to be curious, we are teaching them to adapt to change. I wrote about the PlayMaker School in LA in a recent post. This is a great school that is really pushing the boundaries of what education is and how kids learn. If you haven’t heard about it, check it out!

And to close, Brown’s idea of taking the one-room schoolhouse idea of yesterday and mixing it with today’s classroom and technology to get the “global one-room schoolhouse” where “the teacher [isn’t] transferring knowledge, but the teacher [will act] as a coach, a will turn around and also teach the younger younger kids.” This is how the one-room schoolhouse operated. Why couldn’t we have a global one-room schoolhouse today? With social media and web 2.0 tools, this is absolutely feasible.

What will tomorrow’s classroom look like? How will it operate? What if tomorrow’s classroom partnered with a classroom from the other side of the world, every day? Now that would be cool.


Personal Learning Philosophy v1


Based on your education and experiences, what is your view about learning and how it occurs? One of my favorite quotes is by William Butler Yeats, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” This explains my personal learning philosophy in a nutshell. All through middle school and high school, I was not motivated. I was that kid that flat out did not like school. It wasn’t working for me. And now I realize that was because I was essentially trying to fill my pal with knowledge. Well the problem that arises from this is that a water bucket can become full, and once that bucket is full, it overflows. I was overflowing a lot in school and was losing a lot of knowledge because I just wasn’t into it. It wasn’t until the latter years of my undergraduate studies in which I became excited about learning. It was partly because I had some great professors, and partly because I was getting an education in which I was passionate about. I was engaged. I was having fun. I was learning. Once I graduated college, I knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, something I never saw in my cards in high school.

If you are aware of any philosophies/theories of learning, which would you subscribe to?  I am not aware of any philosophies or theories of learning. I have yet to have an educational theory or psychology course. But after reading a few archived and current blogs, I can say that I do not subscribe to the Behaviorist theory where positive outcomes are rewarded and negative outcomes are punished. I believe this is a thing of the past and it needs to be changed. There needs to be an environment in the classroom where children can experiment and discover without being punished. This is how learning is fostered, in creativity and exploration. Once you imposed standardized testing and punishments for negative actions or answers, students become less inclined to try new things and explore new avenues.

What is the role of the learner and the teacher in a learning environment? The roles of the learner and teacher, I think, will become much more fluid as education shifts and changes. The learner should also be the teacher and the teacher should also become a learner. In creating a two-way avenue of teaching-learning, both parties become actively engaged and new ideas and discussion stem from flipping the tables. I think the role of teacher is now becoming more of a facilitator that will guide students in group projects and discussions and the learner will need to actively pursue questionable issues or topics in which interests them.

How do you know if learning is occurring and what are visible indicators or signs of learning? Learning can occur in a ton of different ways. A great way to measure learning is by having a discussion. Is the student engaged? Are they asking questions? That’s great, they are probably learning. Signs of learning have historically been measured with tests and essay papers. But I feel there are better ways to measure learning and that includes projects, both individual and group. Have the same project at the beginning of a semester and then again at the end, and then measure the progress made in that time period.

What is the role of technology in learning? Technology is simply a tool to be used in learning. Learning has been happening for ages, and it gets better and better with each new tool. Some of the first tools were pencil and paper, and then books, and then a computer. Now we have the internet and the Web 2.0. How can we use the Web 2.0 as a technology tool to enhance and foster learning?