Sunday, November 25, 2012

Curiosity, Imagination and Engagement

Don't we all want to be engaged in what we do? Don't we all want to be curious and imaginative? As a child, I was wrapped up in my fantasy world, as many children are. When I became a parent, I was pretty sure I would have no problem taking part in my children's fantasy play. I wasn't going to be too busy like my mother who always had chores and errands. So naive... of course I was too busy. Even when I did consciously make the time, I discovered something horrifying. I wasn't able to occupy the fantasy world I once made my own. What happened to me?! Obviously adulthood happened and with it came a whole host of responsibility. I couldn't quite leave my real world as easily as my kids could. It was work for me to walk away from everything that "needed" to be done and when I did make time (and my kids invited me!), I found the ability to think up dialogue as an imaginary character was gone. I was out of practice. Such simple concepts, curiosity, imagination and engagement, and yet they were as far from me as if I had never had them.

Is this what happens when adults plan educational units? Did we forget to include the opportunities for speculation and wild imaginings in favor of dry explanations and concrete outcomes? What happened to amazement and delight when something unexpected happens? We have spent this course discussing knowledge - how it is obtained (or not), what we do with it, how we communicate it, how we grow more - and how to make knowledge accessible, shared, and relevant to our students. The following video from DML Research Hub and the following questions from the "Dangerously Irrelevant" blog emphasize the importance of curiosity, imagination and engagement.

Connected Learning: 'ENGAGED' from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

Questions from Dangerously Irrelevant

  • we are fundamentally starting with the wrong questions 
  • we start with learning outcomes – and content defines everything – rather than “what is the experience we want kids to have?” 
  •  our core question is around engagement; if you ask “is a kid engaged?”, you have to pay attention to and start with the kid 
  • we have to make room for curiosity, we don’t have enough opportunities for kids to take things apart and wonder about them
  •  little opportunities to fail and iterate are also opportunities to play with identity 
  • we need opportunities to explore who we are in the world and how the world works, particularly as teenagers 
  • we so decontextualize learning for kids, we’ve forgotten we have a passion for learning in school they could care less, but in complex games kids demand that they learn how to do something so they can move on 
  • as adults, we have to deeply connect content and students’ activity, otherwise learning has no meaning
As an adult learner in the field of education, who has spent a grand total of two and half months learning about educational theory, I believe that connectivism and constructivism are keys to student engagement, a lively imagination and offer us and our students opportunities for curious exploration.

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