Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Top Ten Things Steve Jobs Taught Us

This is a good article by Eric Jackson, a contributor to Forbes magazine. Sadly, not enough educators think the way Jobs thought. We are too cautious, too set in our ways, too caught up in the way we learned, too afraid of change, too afraid of being wrong, too afraid of making a mistake, a bad decision, too afraid of being visionaries. We are in a critical time in education, I believe. Societal changes, technological changes, and economic changes are all impacting education as never before. Hopefully, we will find the kind of leadership in education that Apple, Google, Facebook, and other technology companies were blessed with.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Napster, Udacity, and the Academy

Clay Shirky is an American writer, consultant, and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. Here is an interesting article by him forwarded to me by Exeter history teacher Bill Jordan. It is well worth the read.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

iPads in Education

Here's a nice website, iPads in Education, developed by Ian Wilson, a freelance Apple Education Mentor who lives in the northwest of England. It is filled with information, links, and APPS.

Mathematical Association of Western Australia

Spent a bit of time in Fremantle and Perth, Western Australia, over the recent Thanksgiving break. At the MAWA 2012 Secondary Convention I did a keynote address entitled Secondary School Mathematics: Why should we teach it, What should we teach, How should we teach, and Who should teach it. It was a nice opportunity for me to vent about the state of mathematics education halfway around the world. In summary, we put too much emphasis on teaching calculus, and preparing students for calculus, when there is so much good and relevant mathematics that could be studied. Every student should have a course in statistics and discrete mathematics before graduating from secondary school. As for how we should teach mathematics, my twenty plus years at Exeter have convinced me that a problem solving-based curriculum taught via a student-centered approach is the best. Learning mathematics is a participation sport and teachers need to get out of the way and put students at the center of their own learning. As the adage goes, teachers need to be the "guide on the side as opposed to the sage on the stage." Moreover, student-centered learning can take place in any classroom with some don't need a fancy, oak Harkness table. Check out this video made at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago, IL last summer to see student-centered learning in action outside of Exeter and sans Harkness tables.

After the keynote, I did three 50-minute sessions entitled "A Non-Text, Problem-Solving Approach to Secondary Maths." These were about our problem-based mathematics curriculum at Exeter and were very well attended. Once again, many participants requested copies of the teaching materials and were very thankful to Exeter and, especially, the mathematics department, for making these materials so readily available. 

I also made a presentation to the entire faculty at the St. Mark's Anglican Community School in Perth on student-centered learning or what we at Exeter call the Harkness plan. These presentations always produce lots of interest and questions about how we teach. And, finally, I made a two-hour presentation on student-centered learning and our mathematics curriculum at the Hale School in Perth.

California Mathematics Council Meeting

I was at the CMC-South Conference 2012 from November 2 - 3, 2012 making a presentation on the Phillips Exeter Academy mathematics program. There continues to be great interest in what we're doing and many participants requested copies of our teaching materials. 

A highlight of the conference was a keynote talk given by Dan Meyer, a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics education at Stanford University and definitely a leader in mathematics education. Here is a link to his very popular Ted Talk. And, I'm pleased to announce that Dan will be giving one of the featured evening talks at the Anja S. Greer Conference at Exeter in June of 2013.