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August 31, 2009

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Via Dave Pollard a link to an approach to pedagogy called Where Are Your Keys? (WAYK). I'm having a hard time relating it directly to Pink's talk, but it does seem relevant to your questions.

Evan Gardner decided to become a teacher and having studied education myself, I was quite taken by is approach. Anyhow he did his work to be certified as a Spanish teacher. But along the way became very interested in disappearing Native American languages. And wanted to throw all the tricks about teaching he'd learned towards solving the problem of how to teach these languages to a critical mass in the shortest possible time.

There's a lot to his approach and he and Willem Larsen don't have all of it up. The Podcast interview of Gardner by Larsen is quite good, but about an hour long. But the post "The Fluency Paradigm" only takes a few minutes to read:

"Notice the distinction there; in our modern culture we mostly value the amount of facts you carry. In a fluency-based learning culture we value the amount of questions."

"In a mainstream sense, to “know” something means to have an intellectual understanding of it, though the execution of it may elude you."

"In a fluency sense, to “know” something means you feel comfortable in your skin about it, that you can implement this knowledge easily and gracefully."

Pink talks about motivation, WAYK is about how we exchange knowledge.

It may be really OT, but something that connects is how the WAYK approach upsets the line between teachers and learners. It's something like: we all become learners, or just as good, we all become teachers. When distinction is done away with learning takes on added responsibility, because we have to share it. But the process is collaborative so it doesn't seem like more work.

I think there is a portion of society that believes that the problem with our educational system is that we allow children to "break the rules." Those that feel we should be focusing on the "basics" really are saying we should continue to teach the traditional curriculum of generations before us, not recognizing the changes that are the result of new technologies and a new world order.

I have found, as a result, that we don't want creativity. The standards based education means that students are not encouraged to deviate from a set curriculum; they can't be creative. As my son's 4th grade teacher wrote on his practice exam for the NY State 4th grade standardized test, "You can't include humor in your answer." It deviates from the norm.

As a result of this type of education, I spend much of my time at the college level trying to get students to deviate from the norm. They are very reluctant to go out on the limb to give their opinion (this was penalized in High School) or even create their own theories. I predict that the next generation will look to those who have the power or expertise to come up with solutions. This is unfortunate as I feel much of the advances in our society have come from those outside of mainstream and not willing to toe the norms.

I think this also has some interesting implications for whom we should ask for advice when "fixing" a business, particularly if you are a non-profit. Does it really make sense to get people in who focus on external motivators if your non-profit mainly works because of internal motivators? I don't think so.
See also: http://sm4good.com/2009/09/20/nonprofits-good-employers-mba-bad-advice/

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