Tag Archives: McMEL

18 Reasons We Need More Psychology (And Less Logic) In Our Education Thinking

Few systems are as complex as education.

I’ve been thinking a lot about education lately, I’m in the school change business, especially as it relates to creating schools that work for all children. Over the last years, my work has focused on designing schools that work for all students, programs for hard to teach students, and on technology-rich learning environments, especially 1to1 learning with laptop and ipad initiatives (these all usually overlap considerably when each is done well). And I especially wonder how it is that competent educators (good people) make decisions and policies that seem to not work very well.

From my perspective, a decision or policy works if it supports the working of the system. You can tell if it doesn’t work if the system is still upset or in some level of tourmoil.

I’m not sure I can explain this like I want to, but I guess I should say here that when I say “system,” I don’t mean the “education system” or “school system” (the policies that govern a district, school, classroom or other jurisdiction), but rather the system of learning. By my definition, if kids generally do their work, follow the rules, learn, and are engaged, then the system “works.” If kids are breaking rules, not learning, refusing to do their work, then the system doesn’t work. If a school has a high breakage rate on devices or they go missing, the the system isn’t working. When breakage and missing rates are negligible, then the system works.

So why do seemingly good policies not work?

I’ve come to the conclusion that problem lies with logic.

Good people use logic to make decisions. But education is a complex system based on people, not things. Therefore, we need to use psychology, not logic. By definition, logic makes sense in systems that focus on things or stuff. But it is psychology that makes sense in people systems.

So, from two decades of working with schools, including my own, around customized learning, or student motivation, or technology-rich learning environments, or leadership for school change (or, more often, all of these combined!), I’ve started to discern some of the “Logic vs. Psychology” problems schools have. In each case, the “logical” solution is certainly logical, but seems to have perpetuated (or even exasperated) the kinds of disruption or disequilibrium that the solution was trying to solve (it “didn’t work”), whereas the “psychological” solution seems to have had the desired effect.

So here are 18 reasons we should use more psychology and less logic:

  1. Logic says 1to1 is a technology initiative. Psychology says it is a learning initiative.
  2. Logic says students should learn (it is for their own good). Psychology says we must ask ourselves why students would want to learn.
  3. Logic says do workshops on how to use the various software on the laptops. Psychology says do workshops on how the software can be used to help students learn academic content.
  4. Logic says that a teacher must cover content. Psychology says that a teacher must connect with students personally.
  5. Logic says schools should ban disruptive technology (cell phones, mp3 players, blogs, chat, social networks, etc.). Psychology says if a tool is part of the child’s culture, then we should find academic uses for it.
  6. Logic says filter the Internet heavily. Psychology says filter some, but mostly educate students.
  7. Logic says use technology to do what teachers have always done, but more effectively. Psychology says use technology in new ways to engage students and help them learn.
  8. Logic says supplying the tools is enough. Psychology says apply some positive pressure and support to get teachers to use the technology effectively for academic purposes.
  9. Logic says breakage and theft is about the technology and the kids. Psychology says breakage and theft is about how the technology is being used for academics and the leadership around the technology initiative.
  10. Logic says tech folks need to protect the stuff. Psychology says tech folks need to enable engagement and the learning.
  11. Logic says a school is doing well if the easy to teach students are doing well. Psychology says that a school is doing well if the hard to teach students are doing well.
  12. Logic says give students information. Psychology says help students make meaning of information.
  13. Logic asks, did the teacher cover the material? Psychology asks, did the students learn it?
  14. Logic says that technology is a separate line item. Psychology says that all the expenses related to technology are integrated throughout the budget (infrastructure, instruction, staff, etc.).
  15. Logic asks, how smart are you? Psychology asks, how are you smart?
  16. Logic says teachers should speak to students with authority. Psychology says teachers should speak to students as people.
  17. Logic says a teacher can select which teaching styles they choose to employ. Psychology says that there are high-impact and low-impact pedagogies, and teachers should choose wisely.
  18. Logic says pass out laptops to teachers as soon as the school gets them. Psychology says pass out the laptops at an inservice where school leaders can set the tone on how they will be used in the classroom.

Let’s try to use a little less logic and a little more psychology.

 

Will the iPad Save Schools? – The 4 Pillars of The Schools We Need

Student using an iPad

I’ve been interviewed a couple times over the last few weeks, mostly about our iPad research results.

One journalist asked me if I now thought that the iPad would be the secret to helping more students succeed in school.

I don’t think it is any secret that I am a big iPad fan, both personally and professionally. But I don’t think any piece of technology, by itself, will be responsible for creating the kinds of schools we need, if we are really going to develop the talent of every child. Technology can and should be a critical piece of that, and the iPad is a wonderful piece of technology for learning. But my experience working with schools that are striving to be successful with all students is that there are several key components to consider.

I told the journalist that I thought there were four pillars to the formula for successful schools.

Pillar 1: Customized Learning
Customized learning are the structures and practices that are built around two principles: people learn in different ways and in different timeframes. It might be called individualized/personalized learning, standards-based learning, or performance-based learning, and includes approaches such as RISC or Mass Customized Learning.

Pillar 2: Motivation
Motivation could be thought of as the conditions educators put into place that make it easier for learns to be self-motivated. These include strategies such as creating real world connections to the learning, providing students with voice and choice, insuring that our schools and classrooms are inviting places for students, emphasizing activities that focus on upper level Blooms and involve learning by doing.

Pillar 3: Technology for Learning
Computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones are the world’s modern tools for work, but they also have the potentinal to be our modern learning tools. But technology has to be looked at, not through the lens of the stuff, but rather through the lens of leveraging the stuff for learning. We need to look at how we use technology for various kinds of learning, as well as our leadership and policies around technology, and how we manage it.

Pillar 4: Leadership for School Change
Large-scale school change has a lot of moving parts that school leaders need to pay attention to and nurture if they wish the transition to be successful. How do we keep “the main thing the main thing”? What are the critical components and what are the supporting components that are still necessary to pay attention to? This is what is at the core of leadership for school change.

 

You won’t spend too much time thinking about each individual pillar before you realize that they overlap enormously and you can’t really think about one without thinking about aspects of the others. And you’ll realize that some pillars share components (or very similar components). In order to be successful, however, schools need to work on attending to all of four pillars simultaneously, so the fact that there is overlap is not a problem.

What I Did About It

That journalist interview and that question provided me with an aha! moment. Those of you who know me, know that I’ve been working on motivation, leadership, technology and other issues lated to student learning for a long time. But it was that conversation that helped me pull together and synthesize things that had been running around the back of my head.

So I just made a bunch of changes to both my website and my blog leveraging this new aha.

I spent the weekend rebuilding the McMEL (Maine Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning) website so that it was organized around these four pillars. There is also a Projects & Programs menu with links to various exemplars of the kinds of educational programs we need and projects that are a direct result of the kinds of thinking that went into McMEL.

I also went through this blog, reorganizing the categories. There are now categories, not just for each of these four pillars but for each major component of each pillar. I also went through all the old posts and made sure that they were linked to the appropriate categories.

And I have made sure that each page on the McMEL site has links to the appropriate blog posts (at least by category) so that the blog can help populate the information at McMEL.

This might be a rather complicated way of simply saying that I want to help insure that educators have access to good information on these topics both from the McMEL site and the Multiple Pathways blog, and to make it easier as they are looking for guidance on their own initiatives.

iPad may be one of my favorite tools in the Technology for Learning category, but I think it is only one component of the answer to the question, what will help schools be more successful with students. For me, the answer is Meaningful Engaged Learning, including not only Technology for Learning, but Customized Learning, Motivation, and Leadership.

 

Will the iPad Save Schools? – The 4 Pillars of The Schools We Need

Student using an iPad

I’ve been interviewed a couple times over the last few weeks, mostly about our iPad research results.

One journalist asked me if I now thought that the iPad would be the secret to helping more students succeed in school.

I don’t think it is any secret that I am a big iPad fan, both personally and professionally. But I don’t think any piece of technology, by itself, will be responsible for creating the kinds of schools we need, if we are really going to develop the talent of every child. Technology can and should be a critical piece of that, and the iPad is a wonderful piece of technology for learning. But my experience working with schools that are striving to be successful with all students is that there are several key components to consider.

I told the journalist that I thought there were four pillars to the formula for successful schools.

Pillar 1: Customized Learning
Customized learning are the structures and practices that are built around two principles: people learn in different ways and in different timeframes. It might be called individualized/personalized learning, standards-based learning, or performance-based learning, and includes approaches such as RISC or Mass Customized Learning.

Pillar 2: Motivation
Motivation could be thought of as the conditions educators put into place that make it easier for learns to be self-motivated. These include strategies such as creating real world connections to the learning, providing students with voice and choice, insuring that our schools and classrooms are inviting places for students, emphasizing activities that focus on upper level Blooms and involve learning by doing.

Pillar 3: Technology for Learning
Computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones are the world’s modern tools for work, but they also have the potentinal to be our modern learning tools. But technology has to be looked at, not through the lens of the stuff, but rather through the lens of leveraging the stuff for learning. We need to look at how we use technology for various kinds of learning, as well as our leadership and policies around technology, and how we manage it.

Pillar 4: Leadership for School Change
Large-scale school change has a lot of moving parts that school leaders need to pay attention to and nurture if they wish the transition to be successful. How do we keep “the main thing the main thing”? What are the critical components and what are the supporting components that are still necessary to pay attention to? This is what is at the core of leadership for school change.

 

You won’t spend too much time thinking about each individual pillar before you realize that they overlap enormously and you can’t really think about one without thinking about aspects of the others. And you’ll realize that some pillars share components (or very similar components). In order to be successful, however, schools need to work on attending to all of four pillars simultaneously, so the fact that there is overlap is not a problem.

What I Did About It

That journalist interview and that question provided me with an aha! moment. Those of you who know me, know that I’ve been working on motivation, leadership, technology and other issues lated to student learning for a long time. But it was that conversation that helped me pull together and synthesize things that had been running around the back of my head.

So I just made a bunch of changes to both my website and my blog leveraging this new aha.

I spent the weekend rebuilding the McMEL (Maine Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning) website so that it was organized around these four pillars. There is also a Projects & Programs menu with links to various exemplars of the kinds of educational programs we need and projects that are a direct result of the kinds of thinking that went into McMEL.

I also went through this blog, reorganizing the categories. There are now categories, not just for each of these four pillars but for each major component of each pillar. I also went through all the old posts and made sure that they were linked to the appropriate categories.

And I have made sure that each page on the McMEL site has links to the appropriate blog posts (at least by category) so that the blog can help populate the information at McMEL.

This might be a rather complicated way of simply saying that I want to help insure that educators have access to good information on these topics both from the McMEL site and the Multiple Pathways blog, and to make it easier as they are looking for guidance on their own initiatives.

iPad may be one of my favorite tools in the Technology for Learning category, but I think it is only one component of the answer to the question, what will help schools be more successful with students. For me, the answer is Meaningful Engaged Learning, including not only Technology for Learning, but Customized Learning, Motivation, and Leadership.