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Week Two Thoughts

jpfeiffer's picture

Week Two Thoughts

At the beginning of this week we started we some important points from the week before. One of the most influential points that was mentioned (I would say in terms of responses from the teachers and myself) was “the brain as an explorer” that learns from both inputs and outputs. I think this term that was mentioned by Paul . I think this idea resonated with the teachers the most because it made the brain seem much less intimidating. Rather than viewing the brain as this organ that dictates their every move they could now replace this thought with the brain as an explorer which in my opinion is much more inviting.

One of the other main points that we discussed at the beginning of the week was the idea that there is no conductor in the nervous system. This was highly relatable for many of the teachers as they were able to connect this idea with the idea that in the classroom there is no conductor. By Paul stating that even himself (directing the institute) is not the conductor it allowed many of the teachers to accept the idea that they should not believe that they are conductors of the classroom but rather view the classroom as a distributed system. I noticed that there was a slight amount of resistance to this idea by some of the teachers because they felt as though by relinquishing their “authoritative “ role in the classroom, the students may misbehave. 

Another story that was offered to the teachers is the idea that there is no such thing as the perfect classroom for every student. In fact, not all students are successful by learning in the traditional classroom. I think Keith reiterated this idea later in the week when he was describing that he enters the classroom with the assumption that no two students can learn in the same way. Because of this he offers different students silly putty, exercise balls, turns desks backwards, etc. so that the students can learn in a way that is most comfortable for them. There is no ‘traditional’ learning environment that is most beneficial to all students and this needs to be taken into account. Many of the teachers agreed with this idea.

Two lectures that were received well by all of the teachers were Alice Lesnick’s lecture and Will’s lecture. Each of the two lectures allowed the teachers to participate without being judged. They were not put on the spot but rather in each of the respective exercises the opinions of each of the teachers was heard. Whether it was in the unconscious doodles on the margin of Alice’s handout or the first words that came to mind after tasting each of Will’s concoctions, everyone was able to share their first impressions.

I think that as the institute is progressing the more of the teachers want to take part in the daily dialogue. It seems as though they are drawing on more of their own experiences and adding their opinions to the discussion each day. I have also noticed that many of the teachers are progressing quite well with the game of Sudoku and they are more willing to play and eager to post their scores on their pages. I have also noticed that most of the teachers are more comfortable using the computers and more confident with the Serendip website.

Until now my thoughts and reflections have all been primarily positive. I feel as though one of the negative experiences for all of the teachers and some more than others, was Wednesday’s lesson offered by Dr. Ingrid Waldron. Now, I do not associate the word “negative” with her lecture to be offensive but the reactions of the teachers that day were dramatically different. Below I highlight the differences between Alice’s and Will’s lecture lessons compared to that of Ingrid’s.

-Alice and Will assumed a much less authoritative role over the teachers.

-Alice allowed the teachers to draw along their margins while Will’s lesson was very hands-on.

-Both Alice and Will would never assume the idea that there is such a thing as “right” and “wrong” but rather encourage that the ideas of all of the teachers are equally important and useful for the conversation.

-The teachers gained greater insight into the unconscious and conscious parts of the brain.

-Many only had positive comments about these two lectures!

-Ingrid seemed much less willing to relinquish her role as the head of the classroom.

-Ingrid encouraged the teachers to make their own experiments yet she was much more controlling and allow for a lesser amount of leeway and creativity.

-Ingrid first said there should be no such thing as telling a peer that they are “wrong” yet she then did herself…

-By the conclusion of the lecture that teachers (although Ingrid’s lecture was completely different than anything they had experienced in the institute) were able to appreciate what she offered. Many of the teachers did enjoy themselves when they were set free to develop their own experiments. Good variation for the institute but like Jessica stated more of an example of not what to do in the classroom.

-The positive point of this lecture was that each of the teachers realized that they would NEVER teach their classes in such a manner. This may be a sign that the open-ended environment of the institute where everyone’s ideas is heard is becoming the norm for ALL teachers in the institute.