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1 Information Overload Marion Brady and Howard Brady Note: Frame animation is complete when the blue arrow appears. Left-click the mouse (point anywhere)

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Presentation on theme: "1 Information Overload Marion Brady and Howard Brady Note: Frame animation is complete when the blue arrow appears. Left-click the mouse (point anywhere)"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Information Overload Marion Brady and Howard Brady Note: Frame animation is complete when the blue arrow appears. Left-click the mouse (point anywhere) to advance to the next frame.

2 2 To help learners make better sense of REALITY— ThemselvesEach otherThe world What’s the best reason for school?

3 3 MAKE BETTER SENSE OF REALITY— How do schools try to do that? Textbooks Teacher talk Tests(Repeat.Endlessly.)

4 4 This is a lousy strategy. Main reason? Textbooks (and other information sources) cram learners with thousands of pieces of information. Too much information—random, disorganized information. FAR too much! It’s like making learners drink from a fire hose.

5 5 Kid’s brains can't cope. The information just goes into short-term memory, then, POOF! disappears. Waste of time. Waste of money. Waste of learner potential.

6 6 So what are the elders in Washington and state legislators saying kids need? RIGOR! More of what’s not working.More

7 7 More pressure from the fire hose! More homework. More “time on task.” More text! More teacher talk! More tests!

8 8 “But,” the elders say, “RIGOR worked for me! I certainly know how to make sense!” What the elders forget is that most of what they know they didn't learn in school. They learned it in the real world, actually DOING, not reading ABOUT doing.

9 9 Schools used to do more— More labs, more field trips, more hands-on, figure-it-out-yourself stuff. Now, just more RIGOR! RAISE THE BAR! NO EXCUSES! EVERYBODY ON PAGE 374 BY TUESDAY! COVER THE MATERIAL! (Not nearly enough, but more.)

10 10 “Covering the material,” not “making sense of the world,” is the name of the game. What are learners really learning? To assume schoolwork is largely irrelevant, a bunch of hoops to jump through, even to hate books and learning.

11 11 So—is there a better way? There'd better be! The future is shaping up to be more complex, more unpredictable, more dangerous than ever before in human history.

12 12 Learners need mental tools for making sense— Mental tools to sort out floods of information, Mental tools to sort out floods of information, Mental tools to decide what's important, what's not, Mental tools to decide what's important, what's not, Mental tools to organize and manipulate what they know, Mental tools to organize and manipulate what they know, Mental tools for thinking creatively. Mental tools for thinking creatively.

13 13 If schools aren’t giving learners those tools,...it’s inexcusable, unacceptable, even criminally negligent.

14 14 What’re the best tools for making sense of reality? Big, powerful ideas. One of the biggest: “SYSTEM”

15 15 Bigger than... biologyeconomicsgeographyalgebraphilosophychemistryhistorymedicinearchitectureanthropologylanguage artspolitical science

16 16 GalaxiesMoleculesFootball teamsFlowering plantsHurricanesSupermarketsElectric power plantsAirlinesViruses —are SYSTEMS

17 17 To make sense of themselves,others,the world, learners need to make sense of systems.

18 18 Key questions—mental tools—for making sense of any system: What are the system's important parts? What are the system's important parts? How do the parts fit together? Interact? How do the parts fit together? Interact? What's propelling the system? What's propelling the system? How does the system relate to its environment? How does the system relate to its environment? What's changing? What's changing?

19 19 Big ideas like these are basic tools. Using them organizes what's learned, linking all information rationally. 1

20 20 A big idea—SYSTEM— containing the smaller ideas “environment,” “component parts,” “interaction,” “driving force,” and “change,” provides a fundamental framework for organizing knowledge. Of course, environment, components, interaction, force and change each have still smaller ideas within them, beginning a hierarchy of relationships.

21 21 Without an organizing framework, the courses taught in our schools are just random information, easily and quickly forgotten.

22 22 “Let the main ideas which are introduced into a child's education be few and important, and let them be thrown into every combination possible.” Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education and Other Essays

23 23 Using organizing ideas effectively takes practice. Lots of practice. Firsthand practice.

24 24 Reading textbooks or using the Internet (secondhand knowledge), Reading textbooks or using the Internet (secondhand knowledge), “The secondhandedness of the learned world is the secret of its mediocrity.” -Alfred North Whitehead Listening to teacher talk (secondhand knowledge), Listening to teacher talk (secondhand knowledge), Taking tests (about secondhand knowledge), Taking tests (about secondhand knowledge), —isn’t practicing.

25 25 Real practice means learners actively applying organizing ideas to the real, firsthand world,... THEIR world.

26 26 How will we know when practice is paying off? sunlight—plant growthself-image—successhabitat design—crime rategas pressure—gas temperaturechemical activity—outer shell electronseconomic hard times— hostility toward immigrants When learners begin discovering relationships— …endlessly. mental stress—physical disease When learners begin discovering FOR THEMSELVES relationships like these between system parts:

27 27 That’s MAKING SENSE OF REALITY That’s what learners need to face a complicated, rapidly changing, dangerous future.

28 28 The world has changed, from one in which information was scarce, expensive, and hard to get, to a world in which a near-infinite amount of information is available at the mere touch of a key. That switch in the relationship between knowledge and humans is very new, very big, and very important. Learners can only cope with this new world if they have mental tools that we’re failing to give them.

29 29 We need changes. Difficult? Yeah! But essential!

30 30 An example of a curriculum free of the problems summarized earlier: Connections : Investigating Reality It’s available without cost. Slideshows in this series: The World Has Changed Information Overload Passive or Active Learning? The Invisible Elephant All Aboard the Standards Express!

31 31 To encourage dialog, this presentation is offered free of charge, and may be used, duplicated and distributed in its original form without permission of the author. Excerpts must follow fair use rules, with proper credits. Copyright © 2011 by Marion Brady and Howard Brady. Marion Brady 4285 North Indian River Drive Cocoa, Florida


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