Saturday, 6 August 2011

5 Minds of the Future : Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is well known in the educational world for his theories on Multiple Intelligence. It was very fortunate that I could attend his workshop on 'Five Minds of the Future' This professional development opportunity gave me the opportunity to understand the changing needs of education and a new perspective in preparing the young and myself.

Reading the book, Five Minds of the Future, was not as interesting as hearing it from Howard Gardner itself. The Five Minds: The Disciplined Mind, The Synthesizing Mind, The Creating Mind, The Respectful Mind and The Ethical mind are the kinds of minds, suggests Howard Gardner based on his decades of research as a psychologist, that we need to develop to survive in the changing world.
More on this can be read either from his book or from Howard Gardener's website.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Creative Thinking in Digital Natives

What stimulates creative thinking in learners?
Marc Prensky[1] , an educationist coined the term ‘Digital Natives’ way back in year 2001. Much of this write up is based on his research and my own experiences with digital natives. You must have guessed by now that I am a self acknowledged digital immigrant who is continually and positively trying to adapt to the ever changing technology driven environment. Change has become my pedagogical stimulant in many ways. I hope to be able to challenge myself and my students that they need to know themselves as learners too, for soon they will be digital migrants of the even more rapidly changing technology and social media environment.
Creative thinking stimulants in learners has changed and evolved rapidly in the past few years. New skills have developed in learners of the digital world, and so I believe that the stimulants of creative thinking have changed too.  As stakeholders in education, the learner and the facilitator both need to reflect and begin understanding that that the brain of the net generation or the ‘Y’ generation thinks differently.
There is much research into brainology these days. My first exposure to the ways of the brain was through ‘The Brain Man’ John Joseph’s[2] professional development seminar at school that set me thinking and acknowledging that perhaps students do think differently. Students can vividly remember details of computer games and their other such interests but find it an uphill task to recall or apply anything that was remotely connected to official curriculum driven education. Yes I know, it may seem the reason that we all usually cite, that students were not adequately motivated, but really they were very motivated at those times, perhaps not to learn but just to improve their grades. So it’s how they learn that is of importance. No wonder, John Joseph who challenges students to learn about learning suggested that if were to let students play computer games first and then make them study, they will be in a better position to learn as their brain cells will have been stimulated by the quick change of graphics of the computer games.

According to Marc Prensky, humans who have “ accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff world of their video games, MTV, and Internet are bored by most of today’s education, well meaning as it may be. But worse, the many skills that new technologies have actually enhanced (e.g., parallel processing, graphics awareness, and random access)—which have profound implications for their learning—are almost totally
Ignored by educators.”  Students of this generation with their computer games, facebook and twitter….  are screaming for change.
How do we as educators bring about this kind of learning environment in the classroom? How do we ensure that our students are learning and reflecting on their learning?
We perhaps need radical mind set changes and changes in the whole notion of schooling within the parameters of the classrooms and organizational setups. Since that change is like being a few light years away, perhaps what I need is to take small steps to bring about the changes in my own classroom.
It’s acknowledging this change of learning in digital learners, that they think differently, that more focus was given to a business assignment that required use of technology. Not to say that such video assignments haven’t been done before, but this assignment was a conscious shift in my perspective as a facilitator, acknowledging that digital natives think differently.
So really, what stimulates creative thinking in digital learners…?
Work Cited
Focus Education . Focus Education. 18 April 2011 <>.
Prensky, Marc. Marc Prensky. 2008. 18 April 2011 <>.

[1] (Prensky)
[2] (Focus Education )

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Embracing Technology 360˚

Confucius has said,
“They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom?”
And so I encouraged my senior humanities class doing a business course to change from a ‘limited use of technology assignment’ to an assignment that evaluated not only their conceptual understanding of business terms but also their technology skills.
The main reason for introducing this assignment that involved a video production on a business concept is my innate belief that, students of this generation (X or is it Y now?) are in their comfort zone when using technology whether they understand the complexities of it or not because that is what sparks and stimulates elements of creative thinking in them.
I hope to be able to substantiate my theory of creative stimulus in today’s digital native learners with research, journaling through observation of students attitudes towards the assignment, the learning process and students own feedback and reflection over the assignment.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


There were these long lectures on how students shouldn't multitask but pay attention and focus on the lesson taking place so often during class time wherby I, the deliverer of these lectures got bored with them too. So the problem called for a solution and it was newly designed task that involved the least use of technology, with all electronic gadgets to be kept in their school bags. This was taken up with reasonable surprise as the students in their senior school year in a personal laptop learning environment were only too familiar with the technology tools for learning.

The new assignment began a week ago and it was a reasonable success. My hope is that the change in the class attitude continues. I know that my own motivation level has changed as I observed that students participated a lot more because they were fewer distractions around them. I hope to share my thoughts of the learners and the learning process. The lesson was on 'motivation' and what a paradox that the teacher herself was on a low motivation level, having reminded students repeatedly to stay focused. Thus the inspiration and the creation of this blog: MUSINGS OVER LEARNERS AND LEARNING.

No Technology in Brightonphoto © 2008 Sammy0716 | more info (via: Wylio)

The Problem: Multitasking during a senior school class time, well web surfing during a humanities lesson on motivation and ....oh, at times participating in the class discussion too, along with taking notes written on the white board)

Is this really a problem? Or just my illusion that it is a problem? The students were definitely learning something but I wasn't satisfied with the learning process. I do believe that their learning curve would have been much steeper if they had not been multitasking.

The students were listening and participating and web surfing during lesson time. Or perhaps not web surfing but on Face book, or watching a video or listening to music. Couple of the students were like fish to the water, they would stop on correction and even before their brains could alert their minds, and their hands would be back multitasking.

I am convinced through my own educational experience, that the knowledge and understanding gained in such a manner is short lived. But obviously the students don't seem to care about this or are oblivious to this or just find it difficult to discipline themselves.

What do researchers say?

"People can't multitask very well, and when people say they can, they're deluding themselves," said neuroscientist Earl Miller. And, he said, "The brain is very good at deluding itself."
Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can't focus on more than one thing at a time.

What do my students say?

By show of hands, of a class in question with nineteen students, more than half of them raised their hands to say that minus the technology tool, the laptop in particular, that their grades would be way better.

But then again, are grades really a measure of a student's success?

Being in their senior year, filling in University admission forms, those grades do play an important role. If these grades were so important to the students, why wouldn't they pay more focused attention in class? Is it just lack of self discipline or a matter of making right choices? Yes, helping students making right choices is part of the class agenda while the class discusses motivational theory.

What do I say?

For a week's time, I have decided that the class can do away with mobiles, laptops, iPods etc and go back to conventional learning, yes the good old pen and paper way of learning. Mind you, I am all for embracing technology and technology tools but am not convinced that it must be used at all times. Perhaps I would permit only the use of the word processor in the collaborative group assignment by one of the group members of the assignment group as Google docs just empowers the sharing and contribution process of learners. Besides, it would make it so much easier for the students to edit their work.

It’s to be seen how effective this experimentation really has been. We’ll soon come to know.