We have considered many things up to this point: In Week One we considered the idea of narratives, and how those narratives define us and our schooling practices. We heard Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talk about the unfortunate consequences of an incomplete narrative and the power that some can hold over others when they control the narrative. We also listened to Greg Bryk talk about the way we can have some control over our own narrative as well as our own future.
We then viewed the documentary TEACH, noticing how beginning teachers interact with students as well as how a variety of narratives provide meaning or context to what these young teachers do.
In Week Two we gave some consideration to the way language influences how we perceive the world around us. This helps us understand how particular language can influence the way we perceive schooling, education, and those around us. The term ‘grade’ and the language associated with ‘grading’ has a great influence on how we think we should organize schooling practices. Without the term grade, we would begin to think of schooling in a much different way. Ben Zander (Everyone Gets An A) and Alfie Kohn (The Problems Associated With Grading) speak to the problems with the language (and the narratives) associated with grading.
We also gave some consideration as to what the purpose of schooling is. Ryan, Cooper and Tauer point out four different purposes: the intellectual, the political and civic, the economic, and the social purposes. We also listened to some of the things Dr. Barrow had to say regarding the definition of education. He clearly positions himself toward the intellectual, suggesting that one requires a depth and breadth of understanding to be educated. For fun, we wondered if schools were doing a good job of ensuring students are educated. Given some of the interviews we watched from Jay Leno’s “Jay Walking” it is questionable.
We then watched the documentary School of the Future. This allowed us to spend a bit of time reflecting on how the narratives might change regarding schooling in the future.
In week three we raised the question of questioning. Is it important to question to become educated? It seems that questioning is a natural human thing to do. And yet, we begin to wonder if our schooling environments have us question enough. Or is the typical schooling narrative one of delivering information. We gave some serious thought as to the importance of questioning. We read a section of Postman and Weingartner’s book Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Here, they helped us consider an entire curriculum comprised of questions rather than one that provides only answers. The pedagogy changes. Teachers no longer lecture. Rather they help support student questions. This launched us into considering schooling environments more broadly. We began to see different approaches–different curriculum as well as different pedagogy. We looked at Project-based schooling, and Big-Picture schooling. We than gave some thought to Thinking-based curriculum and we viewed some schools that incorporated thinking/questioning strategies into the mix. We carried on our consideration of thinking-based/question-based/community-based schooling environments when we viewed the school in El Salvador whereby students were actively engaged in solving problems in their own communities.
I summed up this section on curriculum and schooling by having you choose a documentary that you found most interesting.
Today we shift our focus toward the individual. The specific narrative that we are considering is the narrative of intelligence. Schools, for many years, have incorporated the idea of intelligence into the schooling/teaching/learning narratives. Student are often considered intelligent, or unintelligent, depending on their success on tests. So testing and intelligence as well as the idea of school success has been woven together into an interesting narrative. These words, as Boroditsky suggested, influence the way we see our students as well as the way we see ourselves. You have probably heard the saying, give someone a hammer and everything looks like a nail. This is another way of saying once we adopt a particular perspective, the things around us show themselves in a particular way. Notice how Ben Zander doesn’t incorporate the idea of intelligence into his view. Rather, he likes to think of student possibility. But once we start comparing students’ intelligence, all sorts of things can happen.
So today, let us look at a documentary on Intelligence. We will give some thought as to the narrative it invokes in school. And, we will give some thought as to the positive and negative implications of adopting the concept of intelligence as something of importance in our program design.
According to several IQ studies, our intelligence is declining as populations grow. Why should that be? And is IQ an adequate measure of human intelligence – the amazing faculty that has enabled us to achieve dominion over nature? Scientists from many different fields are scrutinizing our intelligence, be it innate (genetic) or acquired through environment, education and learning processes, in an attempt to determine what intelligence really is. Meanwhile, others are working on ways of boosting our brain power. An experiment in which human brain cells were grafted onto the brains of mice found that their abilities increased tenfold. This and other similar discoveries are sparking new ideas for ways to improve our abilities. Via a fascinating journey through the maze of the human brain, we learn that there are several forms of human intelligence, among which creativity appears to be one of the most unusual and the most uniquely human.
Continuation of Question Set Number Three:
Question 6: What is intelligence according to the documentary?
Question 7: Where did the idea of intelligence quotient come from? What does that mean?
Question 8: What does neural efficiency mean?
Question 9: What is myelin?
Question 10: What do environmental pollutants have to do with intelligence?
Question 11: What is the role of glia cells?
Question 12: What is the role of astrocytes?
Question 13: Robert Polman tested thousands of twins. What does his research suggest about intelligence?
Question 14: What does it mean when we think of the brain in a modular way?
Question 15: Historically, there have been tragic and discriminatory consequences of the adoption of the concept of intelligence. There were narratives in place that clearly pushed some people into positions of power as a result. Do we have a problem in our schooling narratives with the belief in the concept of “intelligence”?
Please add these responses to your Question Three Set. They will be due November 2nd. Thanks.
Until next time, have a great day!