Café Discovery

Once upon a time I took an idea from real life and tried to implement it online.

It seemed easy enough.  Provide a place for people to talk about education, teaching and learning.  To encourage discussion, provide an essay.  To provide a service, provide some links.  

It succeeded in some ways, but it also strayed away from what it’s intention was.  Naming it Teacher’s Lounge was probably the mistake.  I’m not very creative when it comes to titles.  That title apparently conveyed the impression that people who weren’t teachers weren’t welcome.  As if I have an exclusionary bone in my body.

Whatever the reason, people who weren’t teachers mostly stayed away…or apologized for not doing so.  I think that says a lot about the state of education at the present:  people actually apologize for being interested in it.

I intended to do something different.  I wrote this as part of a comment on Tuesday:

Saturday sometime I will probably post something about the plans for the rest of the semester of our campus Gay/Non-Gay Alliance.

The truth is that writing yesterday involved some draining of initiative.  So I decided to let loose some meta/creativity instead.



Crosby, Stills and Nash:  Teach Your Children

The truth is that I’m only a teacher because I know how to pass on what I have learned.  I’m primarily a learner.  My skill lies in the ability to describe what I have learned in ways that help other people to learn what I’ve learned.  It has proven to be a useful skill.

I like being useful.  I like talking about learning and teaching and motivating people to increase their knowledge.  There is this critical mass sort of thing that goes on sometimes:  as more people know something, there are more points of view on that thing, and we can come to understand it better.  Maybe someday we could use that agility we humans have as quick learners to actually solve the world’s problems.



Leonard Cohen:  To a Teacher

Millions of intricate maneuvers.  We set up this entire Rube Goldberg contraption we call education and then spend our lives desperately avoiding throwing the switch which might just initiate the cascade effect that will change the world.

Teaching something not only demands the presentation of the material, it also demands that we explain to people how to learn that material.  That’s the essence of teaching.

Irrelevant random meaningful song:



It’s a Beautiful Day:  White Bird

I do have some observations about group interaction concerning this topic.

1. If the discussion becomes a carping session about students, teachers, or administrators, then in spite of the fact that some people might feel better for having vented, little is likely to get accomplished in changing the situation that caused the venting.

2. It helps if every problem is presented with a possible solution, even if it is obvious the solution won’t work.  Having a starting place to work from can accelerate some of us along the learning curve.

3. Discussing the cost of education is rarely a discussion of education.

I’m sure there are more.  I may add some as the day progresses.

Everything here is meant to be malleable.  The intention is to create something that is functional and effective.

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    • Robyn on February 23, 2008 at 7:16 pm
      Author

    My first ten or so choices for a title of this were already taken by other resources.  I expected that.  I had the same problem when I came up with Teacher’s Lounge.  That time I gave up and just moved the apostrophe.

  1. We set up this entire Rube Goldberg contraption we call education and then spend our lives desperately avoiding throwing the switch which might just initiate the cascade effect that will change the world.

    Whatever you’re tapping into here, keep it!

    • Alma on February 23, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    2. It helps if every problem is presented with a possible solution, even if it is obvious the solution won’t work.  Having a starting place to work from can accelerate some of us along the learning curve.

    Its so true that something that won’t work can start people thinking of other things that will.  Like a spring board.

    • Robyn on February 23, 2008 at 8:29 pm
      Author

    I believe that is a certain street in Stockbridge, MA.

    • Alma on February 23, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I don’t think it was so much that we felt unwelcome in Teacher’s Lounge, as that we felt ignorant of structured teaching techniques.  At least that’s my view.

    • frosti on February 24, 2008 at 4:31 am

    I sent you an email about yesterday’s essay, and would really appreciate a response.

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