What a week!
We are at the tail end of what has been the most exciting and enthusiastic Pre-Planning Weeks I have ever been honored to lead. We have been studying Curriculum 21 as a school for almost half a year and experimenting with nings, wikis, Google docs, Skyping, etc. As the new head of school, coming into this so recently, the credit for much of this goes to the visionary lay leaders who brought the program to us and to our primary 21st Century Learning Specialist Silvia Tolisano. I have been impressed at the level of buy-in from all our teachers (regardless of age or stage!) and we have spent much of our week collaborating and planning for an amazing year. The highlight for many was a Skype call with Curriculum 21 editor and author Heidi Hayes Jacobs.
I have been inspired by my teachers to jump into 21st century learning as well, with this blog, a twitter account, a Skype account, etc. Each week I hope my sophistication with all these new vehicles for connection and communication deepens. So too, do I look forward to being enriched by those kind enough to enter into feedback loops with me.
Part of my desire to keep this blog is precisely to reflect on the relationship between 21st century learning and 5,000 year-0ld traditions. This week was a good week for this kind of reflective practice. While studying from the Book of Exodus with my Jewish Studies Faculty, we focused on a curious phrase. When God prepares to give the Torah to the People of Israel, the people respond by saying “We shall do; we shall understand” (Exodus 24:7). We will do all that God will ask of us and we will (then) understand.
I am greatly paraphrasing and somewhat loosely interpreting, but it is an acceptable translation and understanding to conclude that one can oftentimes gain understanding through action. This is as true as keeping kosher as it is as learning addition. You want to know why it is valuable and important to keep kosher? Try keeping kosher for a while and see how it might enrich your life. You want to learn how to add? Take these manipulatives and play with them. Then you can learn the formulas. Jump in. Get your hands dirty. Experiment. Play.
In many ways this formulation from the Bible is one of the earliest advocacies of experiential education – we learn best through doing. It may not be only way of learning, but it is certainly a valuable tool.
These ideas collided during our week-long study of 21st century learning. If we as a faculty want to see the power of collaborative working through wikispaces and Google Docs…we need to commit to doing it. If we want to see how podcasting can impact student learning…we need to podcast. If we want to see how using interactive whiteboards can lead to a paradigm shift in teacher preparation and student achievement…jump in. Get your hands dirty. Experiment. Play.
Our teachers are ready. I’m ready. The parents are certainly more than ready! The students? We’ll see them on Monday.
A restful weekend to all…