How many times have we heard the phrase: “we are just doing fundamental research…” when asking (read “challenged”) a fellow researcher about their source of funding or, even responded, ourselves, when we were “asked” about the same thing? How many times have we asked ourselves who is paying us to do what we do, what will our research be used for? (I suspect, based on the pat response when I ask my colleagues, it’s another inconvenient truth.)
Reading Parker Palmer’s article reminded me of the two TED talks by Barry Schwartz on Practical Wisdom (see this for more stories about using or not using our practical wisdom). What we need are professionals who go beyond the procedures, individuals who bend the rules to do the right thing or allow others to do so.
I didn’t know this until I realized, after coming to the US, that I’m considered a brown person, not white. I didn’t like it! All of a sudden, I was the other, the one who was different and being ‘included’, not the one who was nice enough to ‘include’ those who are underrepresented!
I invite you to imagine a diverse community, the one that ‘includes’ everybody. Now imagine a non-diverse group; how does that look like? Who did you remove from your community? Did you imagine a group of black, brown, yellow; or was it white? The reality is that when we talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion; at the back of our minds we are assuming a white hegemony to which we are adding some flavor. As Reni Eddo-Lodge says in her post, “for there to be a difference, there has to be a normal against which difference is measured…. To truly include we need to deconstruct that norm”.
The first time that I heard about Pink Time was in the Motivation and Education course when the designers of this idea inspired by Daniel Pink’s TED talk and his book, were invited to our class to talk about this novel idea. That’s how it works:
They ask their students to skip the class three time times, do ANYTHING that they like, absolutely ANYTHING; no limitation or guideline, share what they did with the class in the next session, and assign a grade to themselves.
They found it to be a very successful experience. Challenging students to learn something because they like it not for any other reason and helping them to become self-regulated learners. At that point, for me who believes in the chaotic and unstructured nature of learning, this sounded like the most fascinating idea.
Fast forward to six months later, last semester, I took a course in which Pink Time was part of the syllabus. In the middle of the semester, we skipped one class, did whatever we wanted, shared it with people in the room in the next session, and assigned a grade to ourselves. I decided to read an article about STEAM education which I had in mind for a long time (which by the way, even with the excuse of Pink Time, I did not read the whole thing). As fun and entertaining the next session after the Pink Time session was, hearing about everybody’s activities and what they did, I did not like the whole experience. Here, I’m going to describe what I felt without analyzing it. While trying to figure out what I should do for my Pink Time, I found myself doing it with a sense of obligation. I was not excited. I was not adventurous (stayed within the academic structure (read an article)), and I definitely did not enjoy it. I was surprised by my feelings toward this experience to which actually had a pretty positive attitude toward before I got involved in it. This experience made me think whether this activity in this form is appropriate for all levels. When people get to the level graduate school, they are pretty much self-motivated. I loved the case made by Daniel Pink, but should the implementation of his idea in the form of Pink Time be modified for the different educational levels?
I look forward to reading your comments and ideas about this question.
While reading the New Culture of Learning I really enjoyed the story of Teaching in a galaxy far, far away. A year ago, I was enrolled in a course called Motivation and Education offered by the Educational Psychology department. Dr. Brett Jones, the instructor of this course, developed a model called the MUSIC Model of Motivation. This model is designed to make the current motivation research and theories applicable to teachers and educators. Based on this model, there are five factors that contribute to students’ motivation in a learning environment. These factors are eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring. According to Dr. Jones, students’ will be motivated to learn if they perceive that:
- They are eMpowered. In other words, if they perceive that they have autonomy and control over their learning experience.
- The material is Useful to them.
- They can Succeed in meeting the objectives.
- The material is Interesting to them.
- They perceive a sense of Caring from the all the members of the community (teacher and peers)
Incorporate these factors into your course design or any learning experience and your students will be motivated and eager to get engaged and learn. Looking at the story of Teaching in a galaxy far, far away through the glasses of the MUSIC model, the main two factors that made the students incredibly engaged and made the course a very fun experience for them are the U and I of the model, Usefulness and Interest. The design of the course was in a way to make the material relevant and interesting to the students. Also, allowing the students to decide about the order and the timing of the tasks and activities of each session probably gave them a sense of eMpowerment.
Being overwhelmed by the amount of useless information that I was bombarded with and the unnecessary details shared about personal lives, I abandoned the realm of social media. Despite recognizing the trend to introduce social media as tools for education, I always looked at them with a degree of suspicion. With the development of social media, a new culture and language have come into existence. The current social media culture provides the space and opportunity for sharing for everyone with the price of eliminating the concern for credibility. The diverse but shallow nature of the content shared through social media makes it more an addictive and distractive place for entertainment rather than a place where meaningful connections and communities are formed for learning. Also, the constant exposure to the stream of relevant and irrelevant, reliable and untrustworthy information keeps us from the quiet and reflective time which is the birthplace of ideas and inspiration. Given the current dominant culture of social media, and the well-known quote from McCluhan: “the medium is the message”, the preceding step prior to introducing these media as educational tools should be to reform the manifested culture.
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