WHAT: The first ever Learning Diagonal Conference! WHEN: June 29, 2013 (9:30 am – 4:30 pm) WHERE: Patrick Henry YMCA; Ashland, VA WHO: Families Welcome (Ages 9+) NOTE: BYO Food/Drink or skip out to nearby restaurants for lunch. Casual Dress.
Learn. Play. Discover. Imagine. Connect. Share.
Dynamic, insightful presentations followed by personal and group challenges.
Brain Games, Strategic Thinking, Creativity Development and more…
If you stepped outside of your comfort zone, what could you do?
We have been talking to friends, family, customers and chess camp participants about why we are so crazy about chess. Of course, we believe that chess really is awesome. However, the main reason we love it is because it presents ongoing, ever increasing challenges. The better you get, the deeper the strategies you can learn, the better opponents you can play, etc. And, acceptance of that challenge improves not only chess skills, but cognitive and life skills. For example, chess teaches you things about how your particular brain works (and how to work with it), how to pursue a challenging goal, your personal strengths and weaknesses, etc. Obviously, chess is not the only activity that provides opportunities to push ourselves past our preconceived limits to find out what is possible. When we talk to other people that are excited about sharing their passions with others, it is often for the same reasons that we love chess. That led us to think how cool it would be to gather some of these people together with some awesome participants and see what magic might happen. So, we asked some of the most inspiring, interesting and passionate people we know to volunteer their time and they did! We all agreed that this event will be FREE. You will have to register as we will have limited slots. We didn’t want payment to be a roadblock for anyone. Come experiment with us!
The Learning Diagonal conference is designed to inspire individual and collective action to change ourselves and the world. Our speakers are passionate experts and cutting-edge thinkers who push the envelope of what is possible and bring out the best in others through active participation in shared experiential learning opportunities. Our attendees are curious, energetic participants who come ready to shape the experience with their own ideas, skills and expertise. No one at our conference is a passive vessel. Everyone leaves ready to change themselves and the world. The conference is designed based on the following beliefs:
Maximum growth is achieved by challenging perceived fears and limits in order to approach new learning opportunities with the confidence and enthusiasm necessary to significantly shorten the learning curve.
High-level achievement is facilitated by strong personal and community relationships, emotional competence, values-driven action and personal development.
The best learning methods are effective across disciplines. While excellence in a particular discipline is achieved by dedicated and focused training, cross-training is the best method for keeping the mind and body in a continuous state of active learning.
Physical and mental training are both essential to accelerating the learning curve.
About the day: Leaders may offer dynamic and insightful presentations followed by a personal or group challenge, an opportunity to learn by doing. We will not be sitting and passively taking in information. We will explore, discover, play and learn together. While domain-specific skills may be taught, the overarching goal is to provide an opportunity to challenge one’s self, to learn skills that apply to whatever your goals are. For more information, click on the conference link above.
The story of Gillian Lynne…referred to a psychiatrist for serious school problems who figured out that she, “wasn’t sick”. She was, “just a dancer.” He recommended that she go to a dance school. She went on to join the Royal Ballet Company, form her own musical theater company, and create some of the most successful plays of all time (Cats, Phantom of the Opera) with Andrew Lloyd Weber.
What would have happened to Gillian had she been in school these days? This story is recounted in Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything. In it, he suggests that Gillian would have received a diagnosis of ADHD and been put on Ritalin or a similar drug. Here is a video of Robinson telling the story of Gillian. What do you think? Is he right about what would most likely happen to such a child in today’s educational system? What if a particular student’s passion isn’t found so readily? How do we find a balance between helping students who really need it, excessive pathologizing and squashing their creativity?
1. The most thought-provoking aspect of this book is that it exists: Play is an important enough aspect of human development to warrant an entire textbook devoted to it.
2. One way we determine whether something is essential to human development is whether there are negative outcomes when children are deprived of it. This text highlights research pointing to a variety of negative outcomes when children are deprived of play. The impact of play on physical, cognitive, language and social development appears to be significant (each of these warranted a separate section in the book). Types of play seem to matter as well. Spontaneous/unstructured play, outdoor and intergenerational (e.g., adult-child) play stand out as serving important, critical functions.
Friend and fellow blogger, Rachel Levy, wrote this interesting article on Rocketship Charter Schools. In it, she brings up some things to think about in regards to how we evaluate success. Sometimes, we criticize standardized testing out of one side of our mouths espousing them as evaluative evidence out of the other. What do you think?
A Rocketship to Disappointment
John Merrow came out recently with a segment about Rocketship charter schools, touting high test scores among their low-income students. Merrow looks at Rocketship through the lens of a provocative metaphor: Is Rocketship doing what Ford did with the Model T, i.e, mass producing quality education?
First of all: Yuck. Though some certainly see education this way, education is not a product, or shouldn’t be. It’s not a car. It’s not an item that can or should be mass produced. Even adorned with colorful cubicles, what a bleak and depressing way to envision to education.Second of all: Innovative? Rocketship makes no secret that their mission is to raise reading and math standardized test scores. As I said in this post, where I referred to Rocketship education, I fail to see what’s so innovative about that. Furthermore, using computer programs to differentiate instruction is hardly new or innovative. The school district where we live chose several years ago not to outfit schools heavily with technology, bucking the tech-innovation trend. Instead, the district invested in a solid technical and vocational program. There are computer labs in each school but each classroom has only about five computers. What do they use the computers for? Among other things, to differentiate instruction, or rather differentiate practice. Students can practice their math facts or other basics at their level. As long as such basics are developmentally appropriate and worth practicing, this is a fine use of computers, but the difference is the students in my district’s schools only use them for small chunks of time and only for specific purposes. But such practice is hardly innovative. If anything, it’s practical.If I parked my kid in front of a screen for two hours a day, it might be called bad parenting. In a school, it looks, well, lazy. You better believe that if my kids’ school did that, they’d be hearing from me. So not only is not new, it’s inappropriate and possibly harmful. Yet, Rocketship does it and is praised for its “innovation” and invited to “scale up.”
Project based learning is based on an open-ended driving question. In order to create a high quality end product, students must learn key content. The project allows for student choice and necessitates the use of important skills. The first video provides an introduction to project-based learning. The second video, teens describe their feelings about project based learning.
What do you think about this as a method? Do you think it could be used effectively as a primary teaching method? Is it realistic to think that standards could be adequately addressed or would this only work in a world where standards-based models are no longer at the forefront?
in this video, Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar talks about what really makes people happy and successful. Some things are expected (e.g., exercise). Some are not (no spoiler here). What do you do to cultivate these into your life?
If you are interested in reading more, try these two links:
So, Dr. Robert Balfanz identified four factors that, if one is present, indicate a 75% chance of dropout. A school in the Bronx developed a program for preventing dropout by identifying students with one of these risk factors and providing extra support. What do you think of this approach?
Well worth the listen. In this video, John Hunter describes a game he created where third and fourth grade students struggle with complex global problems. Their insightful, creative, and blend of complex and simple solutions are nothing short of inspirational. Perhaps world leaders should consider hiring some of these kids for their advisory boards.
In this post, the author argues about whether kids can learn the character needed to be successful without ample opportunity to experience difficulties and failure. The idea that one needs to experience failure in order to learn the determination, focus and ability to delay gratification needed to be successful makes sense. On the flip side, too many difficulties/opportunities to experience failure can result in a sense of learned helplessness that can be devastating.
The issue of what kinds of experience are helpful towards the development of these important characteristics is quite interesting. Do you stage something? Would “encouraging” your child to participate in such a thing change the impact? Could volunteerism do it? Could it be taught in some other way (this, for example)? What do you think?
MATCH is an acronym for Maurice Ashley Trains Champions, a trade name for Ashley Parr, LLC, a collaborative effort between GM Maurice Ashley and Dr. Teresa Parr. All MATCH/Ashley Parr LLC products and services are based on GM Ashley's unique method for developing visualization skills, focus, concentration and coolness under pressure augmented by Dr. Parr's expertise in psychology and education. Using the latest research in education and neuroscience, our products and services are designed to make learning both fun and effective.