Liberty and structure

My experience shows that, given autonomy and projects that interest them, my students are motivated and work hard. Never the less our society and technology encourages diversion rather than concentration and students can become lost in the sheer quantity of information. They can lack focus, “surf” without getting anywhere. There are things to learn that they do not find by themselves. I talk of Futurism, the effect of technology on perception and our lives in 1910 and 2010. Left to themselves they do not engage a discourse: imposed upon, they switch off and go to sleep if they have no culture or reference to attach my ideas to theirs.

I believe that the answer to my question is in creating scenarios, stages to “walk through” so that they really see the possibilities and the interest. This however takes a great deal of time, creativity and energy.

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2 Responses to Liberty and structure

  1. Tabitha says:

    This makes me think of a commercial for the new search engine “Bing” where each person starts saying random things that are triggered by a word–the way search results pop up when on Google, etc.

    I agree with you about this kind of cultural ADD. I was helping my little sister with an assignment that required analytical synthesis and had the hardest time getting her to engage.

    I have also noticed this with my little boy, as well as students in the classroom. I think the tendency to multi-task is a contributor, as well. You do have to be able to provide a cultural reference for them that correlates to whatever you ask them to analyze, or discuss. And, you are right–this does take a lot of ingenuity and imagination at times. Any ideas as to how to make this easier?

    • pp says:

      Psychological research shows that multitasking is impossible – my wife, who teaches psychology, does an exercise in her class where students have to follow two people reading at once and they are incapable! I have found the use of the Wiki to give “real time’ feedback to the students as they work was really helpful: by posting comments as they worked (what do you mean by that? Give an example, expand this idea etc.) they were encouraged to go deeper.

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