Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Listen to the authorities and die - implication for teachers

The BoingBoing link on an article from the Wired tells a story of survival of a major tragedy. Here is the quote direct from BoingBoing:
The people in the Twin Towers who ignored the instructions from the cops to stay put survived. The ones who paid attention to them died.

and further down...
In fact, the people inside the towers were better informed and far more knowledgeable than emergency operators far from the scene. While walking down the stairs, they answered their cell phones and glanced at their BlackBerries, learning from friends that there had been a terrorist attack and that the Pentagon had also been hit. News of what was happening passed by word of mouth, and fellow workers pressed hesitating colleagues to continue their exit. [my underline]

The story did not tell us whether those who have escaped have called those left behind (because they listened to the emergency operators) to come out. If there is any, how many lives has been saved? I suspect that there should be some saved that way.

The purpose of this post is not about the tragedy. This blog is more about learning. Hence, I would like to pick up a trend. In the information age, information is abundant.

Today, we already see students who are better at the information technology than the teacher who meant to teach them information technology. The authoritive role of a content subject matter expert, a role that teachers usually take when delivering a lesson, is now being challenged. As our next generation continues to develop and has access to information globally, this will only increase. Our students may know more than we (as a teacher) do in certain subject domain. They may have played games about that, or simply because they are interested in that subject matter for a long time and hence has researched that area in deep for sometime. Teachers cannot claim expertise in every area, not even the subject matter that we are teaching.

I can't swim, but my daughter is a competitive swimmer. Sometimes, she will ask me to coach her in some techniques. When she was eight, I "taught" her how to jump start from a block. She has been one of the best starters in her club's relay team. I have also "coached" her on making the rumble-turn. Many times, she was able to catch up with her competition after a turn. How did I do that?

Obviously, from the subject matter's point of view, my daughter has a much better knowledge both in deep and width in swimming and swim techniques. I was able to help her improve because I acted as a sounding board for her. As she was practising, I watched closely, took measurements (time and distance) and told her the "consequence" of the action she took. She then tried again, modifying the style here and there. I do have some Physics background. I understand the effect on streamlining, drag and forces. I asked her to keep her streamline during entry and underwater. I asked her to add dolphin kicks when she was underwater. I told her how she did in the last try. She tried again. I took the time and distance again ....

By providing her with feedback, I was able to help her find a style which suited her body shape at the time. With practice and determination, she was able to keep trying until she was happy.

Improvements was fed back to her immediately. She knew the consequence of her choice of style and action. She modifies and tries again.

My daughter has several district records (at different age groups), still unbroken.