Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are We Making Our Learners Smarter or Dumber?

I'd like to blog about more of my inspirations as an educator, especially as I come across new stuff all the time via social media. Today, I listened to a talk by Annie Murphy Paul about intelligence being much more malleable and subjective than our learners' very finite and hard fought test scores may indicate.  The more I think about it, this is really timely for the field of adult ed, as the fundamental  mission is up for debate: credentials or skills? Short-term gain or better long-term outcomes?  Annie Murphy Paul may hold a missing piece of the puzzle for advocates of lifelong learning.

The work that she is doing has me thinking about the way we teach adults in the classroom and/or at a distance. The conditions that we create for our learners has a much deeper impact than I had really considered before. She talks about micro-environments that make our learners smarter or less smart. And I immediately think about how the technology tools we use make minds really uptight and anxious or comfortable and free-flowing.  What kind of micro-environments are being created by the various kinds of computer-based instruction software?

A few barely sketched out blog entries that I've been working on immediately come to mind and hopefully will get posted sooner than later thanks to the inspiring thoughts by Annie Murphy Paul.  Issues of empowerment, creativity, enjoyment and confidence come to mind. What are your reactions to this talk about how we get smarter? Is there anything that you'll start doing differently right now?