Saturday, August 11, 2007

What's Important?

When I present a workshop to teens or their parents, I am often asked, "What's really important? What do I need to be sure to learn (teach)?" My answer is nearly always, "Learn how to learn." Things are constantly changing: jobs, technology, products, transportation... To survive and thrive in the future, we must all be prepared to constantly learn new skills, facts, and methods. We must be open to change, ready to look at things from new angles, prepared to give up methods that are obsolete.

A few years ago, a man by the name of Karl Fisch, who was the Director of Technology at Arapahoe High School, was asked to speak at the beginning of the year staff meeting. Mr. Fisch thought that staff meetings often were so filled with information and schedules that everyone tired of hearing speech after speech, so he decided to create a PowerPoint presentation filled with thought-provoking ideas and facts. Before the presentation began, he explained to the assembled teachers that he wanted them to watch, but that there would not be a discussion of what was shown immediately after the presentation. Instead, he wanted them to think about what they saw and read, and over the course of the following days and weeks, he wanted them to discuss their ideas with each other.

In the days and weeks that followed, there was discussion. Then an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, and blogger, by the name of Dr. Scott McLeod, saw the presentation, and he thought it was phenomenal. He showed it to his students and then he asked Mr. Fisch if he could play around with it a bit. He was given permission, and he created a remix, taking out the parts that referred specifically to Arapahoe High School, and adapted it to have more universal appeal. I think it is an outstanding presentation, and one that definitely supports my suggestion that the most important thing we can teach others or learn for ourselves is to "learn how to learn."

Creative Commons attribution-share alike license.
Created by Karl Fisch, and modified by Scott McLeod; Globalization and The Information Age
Music Credits: (1992) "The Last of the Mohicans" off the soundtrack. The song is (Elk Hunt/The Kiss).

"They know enough who know how to learn." -- Henry Adams (1838-1918)

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