Thursday, November 10, 2011

Students can learn effectively from working on "real-world" problems. But “Ender’s Game” is NOT a good example!

"Whatever your gravity is ...the enemy's gate is down"
"...when do teachers admit they don’t know? Rarely. When do we let children work on real-world problems with no correct answers? Only in Ender’s Game." - excerpt from "Design Program Launch" a blog posting from Andrew B. Watt's Blog 11/5/11
I would NOT cite Ender's Game as an implied exemplar!  For a better, different kind of example, learn about Jennifer McCrickerd's approach to teaching online for the first time.  See below and join a free online FridayLive! session 11/11/11 at 2PM ET.

I've actually read and enjoyed Ender's Game - the short story and novel as well as several of the sequels.  Andrew Watt's description of "Design Thinking" in the blog posting mentioned above is quite appealing, and I share his belief that  problem-based teaching/learning can be highly motivating and effective. But not in Ender's Game.  The author, Orson Scott Card, describes a future form of education in which children certainly do "work on real-world problems."  However, Card takes this approach far beyond where most of us hope to go, and immerses the reader in compelling descriptions of the profoundly troubling consequences.  

But you can judge for yourself!  The story and the first 2 novels in the series won almost every award given in the science fiction genre.  
Full Disclosure:  We're planning an online discussion of educational/technological implications of Ender's Game, so I hope you read and enjoy one of the following and join our online conversation in 2012:
Meanwhile, for an example of an effective, experienced classroom teacher who is comfortable admitting when she doesn't know something, join FridayLive! 11/11 2pm ET for our FREE Webinar: "Wading into On-Line Teaching - Trying to convert a successful face-to-face class into a successful on-line class by paying attention to the research and embracing mistakes." Jennifer McCrickerd of Drake University will explain her own approach to preparing to teach fully online for the first time this summer. She has been a quite successful teacher and is especially well-equipped to explain how and why she and other competent professionals can accept the risk of teaching online. McCrickerd offers a constructive way of accepting and building upon teachers' inclination to admit when "they don't know" - a variation on Watt's point. For more info, resources, see the homebase Web page for FrLv 11/11

Photo of "Snowy Egret on Sanibel Island in Lee County, Florida, U.S.A." 12 May 2011, Hans Hillewaert
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 © Hans Hillewaert / CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of crowd of people looking up from inside a brilliantly lit dome; titled "UFO su Milano"  by Giorgio Montersino, taken in Milan,  December 23, 2007 
Cropped by Steven W. Gilbert 20111109
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Request to license Giorgio Montersino's photos via Getty Images

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