The more you bring yourself to your teaching, the better teacher you will be!


The reading about Satra E. Deel experience about how to teach had many good points. She touched on some topics that almost all of us more or less are dealing with. I personally believe that the first important step is to give students a brief pedagogical explanation about what subjects are going to be covered in the course. Justification of the reasons why a student should or should not take that specific course we are teaching, would help them along the long run to have a clear understanding why each topic is brought up within the course. It is like a couple of scenarios, either to give somebody pieces of puzzle and not even tell him/her what the puzzle is about and what is the expected picture, or tell the same person the whole picture of the puzzle first and help him/her to complete it. Therefore, with in the course, students always have the big picture and some sense which help them not to get lost and stay on the right track.

Another important issue is to try to share the true yourself to the students, and describe what kind of a person you are. This makes them understand that the teacher is not only an honest person, but also trustable enough, who genuinely would try to help them. For this, some of the actions that seems odd at first place for me would have been so much easier to understand or justify if the teacher told me about his/her personality so that I could relate the actions in the classroom to the actual personality of the teacher better. That is one of the reasons why different strategies for teaching would be as much as effective to the same extent because students would understand and appreciate the differences between various teaching philosophies.

I agree with the idea that there are many ways to be an effective teacher and build a nice environment with the students. Based on the Palmer’s ideas the more you bring yourself to your teaching, the better teacher you will be and it’s better to remember that kids don’t remember what you try to teach them some times, but they definitely remember what you are [Jim Henson]. I know graduate students are given little guidance during their studies in the school about teaching and the type of issues that Satra also mentioned about through her experience of teaching. So, the right teaching methodology is as important as what we have learned in our fields, if not even more.

Sweeter carrot and sharper stick

I believe it! For mechanical activities, the concept of the rewards and bonus would work better. But when we are talking about the rudimentary cognitive activities the reward idea would not work at all.
Our current system in universities are mostly based on the reward-punishment methodology. A number of advisors, even here, are asking their students to stay in their office, they might check on them three times a day to see where they are there or not. I would say it does not work at all, and they kind of know it. Even some of them force their students by saying that “you know who is the boss here, and if the boss asks you to do something you got to do it”. Nope that is not the way! Having a conversation with Dean DePauw, we might call some of these actions as academic bullying, but that is what we are faced with in many places. I mean a person who chooses to go for a higher level program, definitely knows that he or she should be a hard-worker, but people who are in charge they have this conspiracy theory that the student is running away from working and they have to push them harder with ridiculous rules and silly works, or set up some reward-punishment program.
My experience tells me that the intrinsic motivations are far more important than extrinsic ones, I mean as the financial issues are solved by the first step; the rest is purely about intrinsic motivations. I wish we could tell folks in academia that the world has been changed, the carrot and stick game does not work anymore. They are trying to box students in, not letting them to fly over new areas and find the real things. Take a look on the greatest achievement people came up with before, In how many of them money, bonus, rewards or punishment were the main reasons for such achievements? Probably none.
I personally agree that Autonomy, mastery and purpose are the hidden golden keys for individual better performance. I had so many related experiences with these three golden keys. I know people who came with absolute great ideas when they were chilling on their vacation doing whatever they wanted to do (Autonomy). I know people who dance for themselves without getting paid, and their videos are being watched like crazy on YouTube (Mastery). How many doctors we know that they work voluntarily just because they feel they have the responsibility for the human being wellness, and many neat medical techniques are just developed right there while helping other people (Purposes).
I wish we could let people working in all the university disciplines know that the old-fashioned educational methods of sweeter carrot and sharper stick do not work anymore. But, this question remains for me and it is: How can we get people to change their rusty mindsets?

No one left behind!

There are many points in Ken Robinson talk. I believe that if we are facing some problems with students in today’s world, we have to take step back and look at the issues much deeper first, our responsibilities, our educational system and our “standard/normal” definitions if we truly want to solve the problem.

Two children in the same family are way different let alone the students in the classrooms! so how can we expect from all of them to follow the same path? Current educational system literally forces students to do whatever some people already thought children have to do. Hence, a lot of people ending up being neither happy nor motivated for whatever they are doing. They might find some excuses at the end of the day to compensate for whatever they do but they are not happy.

A true, well-developed and efficient educational system is a system that allows everyone to be flourished one way or another, and ignites the fire of creativity. It would act as mentor not as a punisher. There are number of students that are being judged based on some lame scale that the “punishing” educational system has already set.  How many students we know that they didn’t follow the mandatory educational systems, but shined in their life. So what is the conclusion!?  I am pretty sure all of us know a handful of friends that they did not follow this current educational system and ended up as high quality artists, sport players or musicians. So I would say the educational system is in need of tremendous change. It is important for the leaders of the educational programs to consider students as assets, not financial resources. No wonder that those countries that help the students, and not forcing them, has the highest advancement in various fields of technology, sport, art, etc.

I believe the students are the dormant seeds, waiting for any opportunity to rise as it is well mentioned by Ken Robinson, and one day at the time, I hope, the educational system will be the real rain!

Third Way!


The article about Laptops and Phones in the Classroom: Yea, Nay or A Third Way? Clearly discusses the different points of views whether to use the technology in the class or completely forget about it. Like everything else in the world, technology could have pros and cons. To me it is interesting that teachers might have extremely different points of views toward the same issue.

What I believe about the technology is, basically there is nothing wrong with it. However, the procedures and instructions are in need of significant revisions. As a student, I had experienced the both environments. I remember I was in high school in which any sorts of “technological-related” devices were banned (phones, iPads, etc.). In that atmosphere, we had to focus more on the subjects that the instructor had been teaching us although it went really slow and sometimes boring. However, we were not distracted much from the lecture. I have to say that the distraction for some students even with those rules and disciplines happened sometimes, since they eventually found something to be distracted with.

Along the same lines, I remember a completely different experience, where students were allowed to have their phone and tablets with themselves in the classroom. Like it is mentioned in the article by Kamenetez as well, even more than third number of our searches were irrelevant to the topics in the class. I remember doing all sorts of things and not doing anything related to the concepts being taught in the class myself. Watching soccer games, checking out Facebook, or even playing games with other classmates during the lecture! which I know it was due to the lack of knowledge about how to use technology in a suitable manner. To be fair, it had some advantages too at that moment, the overall lecture was not that boring and the information more efficiently was transformed to the students. Even using apps at some point to control the students was not a practical idea, because that was a coercive approach and did not gain much at the end of the day. Students would do whatever they want to one way or the other!

Having the experience of both environments, I would say the best way that worked out for me was to be self-governing. If teachers showed us the benefits and importance of their work at beginning and encourage the students to participate in debates and hand-on activities, the students would not allow themselves to be distracted by any means. I guess a lot of us had this feeling in many classes that what’s the use of this stuff for us, what I am doing here! So we eventually forgot about the lecture after receiving the grades while we were not fully aware of the importance or the effects of it.  And that is the main reason of the distractions during the class. Distraction would happen no matter using technology in the classroom or banning it! But, the self-governed, motivated and happy-to-be-in-class student could prevent it from happening.

Open up, but be careful!


Several years ago, Jon Udell published his thoughts about how it would be useful for the global society to work openly on the internet, and the procedures to improve the distribution of the information efficiently.

Working openly would raise some concerns, despite many nice advantages! I remember I had a conversation with an IT man who is working for our organization. He told me the only way that you could get rid of the piece of information that you posted before on the web is not to post anything at the first place! Well, it does not make sense at first glance but if we take a deeper look, I would say he is right! To show that his statement is true and as a part of the activity, he asked the class to find his oldest posts on the internet, and to everyone’s surprise, folks in the class found old posts and pictures that he did not even remember when he wrote them.

I tried to find a decent example of information distribution method. One of the good examples of disseminating information fast and efficient is to use hashtags, which we have discussed in our class as well. Since Jon Udell mentioned about these phenomena too, I would like to elaborate on this a little bit more. All of us to some extent are familiar with the functionality of the hashtags and how effective and fast the information could be distributed by using hashtags. We all probably know about the nice sides of using hashtags, but there are some hidden downsides. For instance, what I have observed previously is some folks are using hashtags to get more followers, meaning that they do not use it for the searching purposes, or disseminating knowledge and awareness. These folks might want to hashtag everything in a sentence they come up with. Alternatively, we know some people might use hashtags for the everyday work. For example, someone might say something like “let us go out and play soccer hashtag going out hashtag soccer!”  which would decrease the strength of the hashtag technology that is initially designed for higher purposes.

One of the nice concepts that Jon Udell mentioned is to publish materials in a clear format that could be readable not only for human beings, but also for machines. We all know in today’s world the number of ‘reads’ on someone’s published article are considered and reported in some websites too. Having a clear tag, appropriate name that makes it easier for the searching machines to configure, well-structured URLs help scholars to develop their thoughts more efficiently in less amount of time. “Working on a corner of the web” that you control, would give everybody the opportunity to constructively criticize the work for further improvement.

In overall, the fact that working openly could be beneficent, and trying to publish in a right and appropriate manner is important, but it is better for us to be careful about these posts, since we are not able to delete or terminate them even if we thoroughly would want to do so after a while.  In this regard, how openly do you think we have to be when we are sending posts and ideas on the internet? Do you consider working openly harmful or helpful or even both?