10-Minute Writing: Brene Brown

Brene Brown, in her TED Talk on vulnerability, comes up with four ways to be a “whole-hearted” person: to not be afraid of being seen as your whole self, to have courage in being yourself, to accept vulnerability, and to feel worthy. Very poignant stuff, no? These are great strategies to try and implement in everyday life.
But my English teacher is having us go deeper. After watching the talk and thinking about vulnerability, she asked us three questions to have us answer in our blog post: What is scary about college? Can education be whole-hearted, just like people? How can we be whole-hearted students?

What is scary about college? For me, as a former homeschooler whose first experience in any kind of school environment is college, nothing is really scary. Okay, yes, I’ve never had to study for a test, so that is a bit strange and a tiny bit worrisome occasionally, but really scary? No. Vampires are scary. Thinking about living on campus in a couple years in college is a bit more scary than tests, because I’m known for procrastination, so I’m afraid that when I live on my own, it will just get worse. But in the whole scheme of life, the universe, and everything, college is one of the least scary things out there. At least homework can’t kill you.

Is it possible to have a whole-hearted education? By all means, yes. Most definitely. My mom tried to teach me and my brother (I am quite astonished that she didn’t lock herself up in an insane asylum after a few years, but I also really appreciate that she didn’t do that), and she dedicated the last 11 years (if not more) almost exclusively to helping us learn. She’s still helping, because I ask her questions if I have trouble with homework. So yes, I believe whole-heartedly (pun intended) that it is possible to have a whole-hearted education. Is it prevalent? No, I think not. But is it possible? By all means.

How can we be whole-hearted students? Put the entirety of your being into learning as much as you can. Okay, no, not all of the entirety of your being. Have a social life, most definitely. But don’t spend so much time having fun that you don’t learn things that can touch you in a way you never would have known, or things that will help you in ways you never imagined. You can definitely learn from your peers, mostly about human behavior and the Internet these days, but don’t discount the experience and knowledge of your teachers.

So yes, all these things are possible. I believe everything, whether humans or education, can be whole-hearted if you try hard and want it enough. But don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, and love with all your heart.

10-minute Writing: Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution!

Yet another TED video, and yet another Sir Ken Robinson TED video! Hurrah!
This time, we are supposed to relate his “Bring on the learning revolution!” video to us and to our Honors English class. Hum…

This video took on a more serious tone than the first video of his that we watched. He was calling for reform of the education system, but not just reforming the old broken system: creating a whole new education system to help customize learning for all the different kinds of people that populate the world.

Customize education. What does this mean? Does the teacher have to speak to each child in turn, and give each child a different curriculum? Will there even be a curriculum any more? Will there even need to be a school system, or does homeschooling work better? (As a former homeschooled child, I’m sort of biased towards homeschooling. At times it was frustrating, but in truth, I loved it.)

So how does this idea of customizing education fit with this class? As you can probably tell if you’ve been reading any of the assignments for class on my blog, we’re doing quite a diverse set of assignments. In the Explorations project, we are allowed to choose our assignment based on a set of options and guidelines. Is this customized, because we choose what our four assignments will be, or is it still more “traditional” education, because we can choose only from the Explorations in that book? In our Murder project, we get to show our personalities. But in a traditional classroom, even writing a 5-paragraph essay, a bit of your personality can show through. So is showing personality customization, or something that happens no matter the circumstances?

I’m inclined to believe that this English class is very dynamic, organic, and customizable for the 15 of us students that are taking the class. I’m sure my teacher will be pleased by my saying that. But this class is so much like when I was homeschooled, I feel comfortable, at home, in familiar territory, and like I can express myself quite a lot within the loose and flexible guidelines that my teacher has set. It is indeed quite a wonderful class.

10-Minute Writing: Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Yes, another TED video! I truly do love TED: it’s so beautifully informative, and the speakers are so engaging!!! I highly recommend all the TED videos I’ve seen. But that’s beside the point. The TED video I have just been assigned to write about is called “Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity.” He’s right.

One of the things that struck me the most about this video is the fact that I’d heard so many of his points before! My mom has oft repeated that schools undervalue and try to quell creativity. I’ve also heard several times that there are several different kinds of intelligence, not just “book smarts”. An interesting point that Sir Robinson brought up that I hadn’t heard before is that schools are basically just creating more university professors, and not enough actors, artists, musicians, and dancers.

Another very informative point that I’d never considered before is that every education system around the world has the same hierarchy of subjects. Mathematics and languages are at the top, the humanities in the middle, and the arts at the bottom. He also said that there is a sub-hierarchy inside the arts: art and music are valued and taught more highly and more often than theater and dance. Children who are natural dancers are often kinesthetic learners, so they learn by moving, and so are now often diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, when in reality if they were taught in a dance school where moving around during learning was encouraged and dance was taught every day, they would be excellent.

One phrase that I will remember and try to use often is that if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never do anything creative. It is very true. If you are scared to play a piece wrong the first time, how will you ever become proficient at an instrument? If you are afraid of not drawing a face perfectly the first time, how will you ever become an artist?

I believe everyone should watch this video, if only to think about how you thought about education previously. He has some very profound ideas that will make you think very deeply, and he’s not harsh about it. All his ideas are couched in some of the best British droll humor I’ve ever heard. Go watch. 😀

10-Minute Writing: September 27, 2012

On Tuesday the 25th, our teacher was rhetorically murdered. I.e.: she came into the class, told us that in 10 minutes we were supposed to find her dead on the front of the classroom, and then left. Our only clues? She died at 10:40 that morning from 7 stab wounds. Go have fun.

The first thing that happened was that our small discussion or “pizza” groups began debating heatedly about who it was that had killed her. The majority of us turned on the discussion group that our teacher, Dr. Woodworth, had been in. Those closest to a victim are always suspect, right? Upon being accused, they began protesting their own innocence loudly whilst diverting all of the blame to their two counterparts. Aha! We cried. This proves that they are guilty! Louder protestations were made from the suspects.

I stood up and declared that I had been the murderer. My fellow classmates looked at me skeptically. How could I have murdered her? And why? I repeated that I murdered her, but I didn’t know why or how, so can someone please tell me why. No one offered. I was quite disappointed. We’d come up with all sorts of outrageous yet somewhat plausible explanations for the poor students standing accused at the front of the classroom. One of them had about as much reason to be the murderer as I did. How could no one have come up with an explanation for me?

My discussion group came up with many ideas as to how the discussion group murdered Dr. Woodworth. A packet of lens wipes was found on the table in front of us, so I suggested poisoned wipes for Dr. Woodworth’s glasses and phone, given to her by the murderer. When you use the wipes, the poison gets in to your skin and eventually kills you. The murderer, however, was impatient, so after giving her the poison, they stabbed her, just to make sure she was dead. My group-mates sort of like my idea… Then we decided that the poison in the wipes was administered through the air and got in to your system through your nose, and the murderer used the clothespin found in the classroom to plug their nose before stabbing her. This sounded more and more ridiculous, though, as we went on, so we decided in the end that the lens wipes had been used to wipe someone’s fingerprints off the lenses of the security cameras in the room when the murderer rewired them to show a similar room at the time of the murder. We have continued on this assumption.

And so it went on: each accusation growing wilder and wilder, and yet more and more plausible (my “detective’s report” will be available shortly on my blog).

My friend and I came up with a much better and more plausible idea, however. This idea shall also be released on my blog in the future, but at a later date than my detective report based on my group’s theories. Until then, you may have your own speculations on the mysterious murder of Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth…