Comments

  1. Joseph says

    Ah, it stopped just when he was getting to a central issue for me: why collaboration? Or, rather, why do we force those of us who work/create better alone into “relationships” where our work/creativity diminishes? Yes, most people are social creatures who respond positively to others, but there are some of us who respond negatively to enforced socialization and would rather be working alone, pondering the questions in our heads, working it out on paper.

  2. Paul R says

    I also disagree that all great learning happens in groups and that standardized testing leads to homogenized learning. Without those tests, I never would have skipped two grades.

    I enjoyed this presentation, but he’s generalizing too broadly. I’ll assume what he says is true where he lives, but it’s not true everywhere. I was always in programs (in public schools) that encouraged creative thought.

  3. Goober Peas says

    Paul R, I must’ve seen a different video than you. I heard him highlight the absurdity of schools telling students that copying known facts and sharing answers is “cheating” whereas in the real world it’s called “collaboration” and how things actually work.

    And the very definition of “standardized testing” is to produce a standard learning. The impetus of the entire US educational apparatus is controlled now by ramping up the factory model of education to produce students who all know the same things and can do the same things.

    As to his conjecture that all countries are reforming their educational systems, which ones aren’t? China, Singapore, and other Asian countries are seeking to implement systems that move their students away from standardized answer success and encourage more creativity and thinking outside the box. Most western nations are following the standards-based model and follow the lead of the US; Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Others, like the successful Scandinavian countries underwent their reforms a few years ago.

    I certainly agree that I’d like to hear more. Fascinating talk.

  4. Paul R says

    @Goober Peas: Knowing the same things and doing the same things are different concepts.

    On reform, sure that’s under way in most Western and East Asian countries. That leaves poor countries that can’t afford reform in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe…get the picture? The world is big. Developing countries can’t afford education reform. In many countries parents can’t afford to send their kids to school because of tuition (yes, in public schools) and their kids are required to wear uniforms they can’t afford.

  5. Rrhain says

    Yes, looking up the answer in the back of the book and copying your neighbor’s work is cheating. That’s because you’re supposed to be learning this for yourself, not learning how to look up other people’s work and parroting things you don’t understand.

    There is a time to do research and that is a skill that needs to be taught, but if all you can do is repeat what other people say, then you haven’t learned anything.

    Yes, collaboration is important, but you need to be able to bring something to the group other than the ability to do an internet search. You have to understand what you find. You need to be able to integrate it into what other people bring.

    Do we focus too much on certain aspects? Perhaps. But my own experience has shown that it is easier to be creative when you have a solid understanding of the rules. The “lateral thinking” example is nice, but it only really shows that people who don’t understand a landscape are more scattershot in their ideas. The important skill is not that you’re more creative but rather to become aware of that landscape and know what is possible within it…and if what you want isn’t possible within that landscape, then change it. At some point, a 30-foot tall foam rubber item isn’t a “paperclip” in any meaningful sense of the word. And no, it isn’t stifling to point that out. My cynical side tends to come forward and point out that those who rail on are simply trying to stroke their own egos.

    I’m reminded of a time in 6th grade where we were being taught this “lateral thinking.” They gave the classic puzzle of the nine dots arranged in a 3×3 square and you’re told to connect the dots using four straight lines without lifting your pencil from the paper. The “trick” is to notice that you don’t have to change directions on a dot.

    Well, I can do it in three. Just as the instructions don’t say you have to change directions on a dot, they also don’t say you have to go through the middle of each dot. If you make a great big N with angled lines, you can connect all nine dots in three lines.

    And if I fold the paper, I can do it in one.

    And if I tear the paper up and stack the dots on top of each other, I don’t need any lines at all.

    The teacher went nuts. “You can’t do that!” Strange how the lesson about “thinking outside the box” was done by someone who had trouble thinking outside the “outside the box” box.

    Now, to some degree, there is a point to be made here: Folding the paper and/or tearing it up fundamentally changes things. I can fold a piece of paper but I’m going to be hard-pressed to fold the chalkboard and if I were to break it into pieces, there’d be a lot of ‘splainin to do. And if the paper isn’t big enough, then I can’t make my N to do it or even the four-line solution.

    Sometimes, the box is pretty constraining and the real skill is not so much “thinking outside the box” but rather recognizing what the box is. As the saying goes, “If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no room for dishes.” Fantasies are good and we need them to make creative leaps, but you have to be able to implement them or they are nothing but dreams.

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