In The News… Links of the Week

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The amazing articles I read this week all have to do with education.  Superteachers, you’ll be pleased with these three!  Gekker examines how to make sure learning takes place in the classroom; Gatto wants us to take back our education; and Dlugan analyzes Sir Ken Robinson’s famous TED Talk “Schools kill creativity.”

Katherine Gekker’s “The Struggle to Ensure that Learning Takes Place” covers her experience with students who fail her English class.  She talks about catching a student plagiarizing an essay; the student, as they often do, denies plagiarism occurred.  Gekker writes:

“Finally Helen admitted that a friend ‘helped’ her write the paper—but contended there was nothing wrong with that.

‘When someone else does the work for you, no learning took place,’ I said.

She seemed baffled, questioning what I meant by ‘no learning took place.’

It was my turn to be baffled by a student who did not seem to understand the basic point of college” (Source).

Gekker’s story about Helen (not the student’s real name, of course) resonates with me because as an English and Public Speaking teacher, I so often see plagiarism.  It comes in many forms.  Students copy and paste essays from the Internet; they have friends or family members write their papers for them; or they just forget to cite sources properly.  It seems to me that students who purposefully plagiarize are the saddest kind of students… These people care nothing about learning.

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Gekker’s struggle to see students learn – even if they have to learn through failure – relates directly to John Taylor Gatto’s “Take Back Your Education.”  Garr Reynolds Tweeted the article last week, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been re-reading it over and over.  Gatto discusses the problem Gekker and other English teachers face each day.  Gatto’s first line hit me hard; he writes, “Nobody gives you an education. If you want one, you have to take it” (Source).  This is something I see in every class I teach.  A rare few students hunger and thirst for learning; they want to learn so badly that it’s oozing out of them.  They understand the importance of learning and that a teacher’s job is to facilitate learning and not to transfer an education into them by osmosis.

Gatto writes, “Only you can educate you—and you can’t do it by memorizing. You have to find out who you are by experience and by risk-­taking, then pursue your own nature intensely. School routines are set up to discourage you from self-discovery” (Source).  And this idea leads me to one of my favorite TED Talks of all time: Sir Ken Robinson’s “Schools Kill Creativity.”  Watch it here.

Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes analyzes “Schools Kill Creativity” and does a masterful job of it.  Robinson’s speech is masterfully crafted and delivered, and his message is one I come back to again and again as I think about education.  Does the education system itself create students who care nothing about learning?  These ideas from Gekker, Gatto, and Robinson will certainly plague me well into the weekend.

Superteachers, what great things have you been reading this week?

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