Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fail for success

Learning is a constant flow of problem solving experiences driven by the reality that failure is not only an option but an integral tool guiding students on their pathway to success. Why shouldn’t school be the same? 
In today's artificial world, failure in school is about the most devastating experience one can have. If you do not give the answers the textbook wants, you will fail. Regardless of thinking, the answer is the answer. Columbus discovered America right? If you lie and answer "correctly" you will succeed. If you use critical thinkng, and say it might have been Marco Polo or Leif Erickson, or others, you will fail.
A great example here is WD-40. The 40 in that lubricant refers to the 39 failures leading to the 40th success.  However, in school, those 39 failures would have put you into the streets on a cycle of poverty. Whether it is Milton Hershey, Norm Larson, Albert Einstein, Michael Jordan or anyone who achieved real success, failure was the reason why.
What if a teacher assigned the class a project for the science fair? And what if the teacher indicated the students would be assessed based on .the number of failures they had developing that project? Would the students then picked the easy project, one that had the smallest level of challenge?
Now, what if you told the students, they would receive a higher assessment based on a higher number of failires? The more failures, the better the assessment.
Just sayin' 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Confirmation Bias

What is the confimation bias and why is it important to the future of our world? According to Science Daily, ¨Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or under weigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.” 

When Donald Trump says he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and people would still support him, he is probably correct. They would say the guy shouldn't have stood in front of the bullet, or he was protecting his family, regardless of the circumstances. This is the result of the confirmation bias. His supporters want to believe him no matter how outrageous his statements.

The significant word in the definition is "ignore". "and ignore or under weigh evidence". His supporters would ignore any thought that he was simply a killer in this scenario. Expand the word to become "ignorant" and that is truly what his supporters would be. That is why his supporters believe lie after lie no matter how extreme.

What implications does this have on education? The frontal lobe of the brain believes everything it hears for a split second. Then it looks at past experiences and other arguments to determine the facts. When the person is surrounded by those who are also victims of the confirmation bias, their irrational thoughts will be vindicated. However, if children are taught to use critical thinking, they will then dig deeper to search for true solutions to a problem.

The greatest challenge of education in this decade is to prepare children to rise above the "confirmation bias" and embrace critical thinking. In education, we do the opposite. Students must regurgitate what the teacher or text book tells them thus diminishing the need for critical thinking.

Whether it be climate change deniers, or those who believe President Obama is a Muslim from Africa, or fake news from Russia, the ability to think critically would make these scams obsolete. Education can make a difference  and must teach students to think while it is still legal.

Stay tuned for my next book "Protecting Students from Monsters, Ogres and other Politicians" that addresses this subject. Visit my wholechildreform website  for more info.