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Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Hector Ruiz on TED Talks

Posted by ryancas on June 14, 2008

This video on TED Talks was really fantastic. Hector Ruiz is the CEO of AMD, who was born into a poor region in Mexico. His parents had no education, but they pushed for him and his four sisters to attend university so that they could better themselves. He gave that brief background of himself to put into context what his initiative was all about, and I think it really helped me wrap my head around the idea.

As head of one of the biggest companies in the world, the man has some power, and wants to use that power to improve our world as a whole. As such, his company has come up with a business plan to have half of the world’s population connected to the internet by 2015. It is a lofty goal to be sure, but steps are being taken through government bodies, companies, education systems, etc to achieve the goal.

Ruiz insists that in order for this goal to be possible, the technology needs to be useful, accessible and affordable to those that are needing it. What good are 10,000,000 educational laptops if the regions of the world that need them cannot come close to affording them?

That is when he brought up the fact that 50×15 is not a charity; it is a business venture through and through. He sees the potential to boost economies in regions souch as South Africa by housing the entire process inside their country. He argues that there is absolutely no point of just “parachuting technology” into foreign borders if the tenants of that country cannot grasp what has been given to them. By building software and hardware factories in countries such as these, where people can build the technology for their own people, the boost to the economy as well as the educational levels of the population would be tremendous.

The most endearing thing about his presentation, however, was not his plans for a more connected world. What drew me to him was his passion for a better world…At the 4:50 mark he says something really empowering. One of the things his mother and father told him when he was young was that when he goes to bed at night, he should be able to look back on the day and honestly say that he contributed something to it. If every person could have this same outlook, can you imagine the benefits to society. He underscores this idea with an anecdote passed down from his father that is another gem to live by: In order for our world to make progress, each generation needs to do better than the previous generation. He meant this on an indvidual scale, not a societal scale because that is where the progress can truly be made. Ruiz’ father put pressure on him to be a better husband and father than he was himself, which would lead to being a better person overall… powerful stuff.


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How are teachers perceived by their peers

Posted by ryancas on June 14, 2008

Today I stumbled upon this post by Kyle Lichtenwald. In the post Kyle discusses the importance of “coolness” in the classroom, whether teachers should make an extra effort to be “cool” and connect with their students. He was then met by some criticism from Chad Brannon, who mistook what Kyle meant by the idea of being cool. It has since been resolved, and it is clear from comments by Chad that no harm was meant by the comments, but the fact remains that the comments were said.

The topic questions what a “real teacher” is, whether a sub should be considered a real teacher, or simply a space filler until the real thing can get back. Chad eventually sums up what a real teacher is by saying:

How do I define “real” teacher? One who does it day in and day out…basically, one who has to worry about the direction of the school, curriculum, the whole child and more. A sub usually does not go to meetings and contribute to the creative process of the direction of the school. There are many teachers at my school that are there everyday that don’t care about kids or the school. With that said, many of our subs do a better job than some of the “real” teachers.

At first read, I completely accepted that idea of a real teacher, but I’ve been thinking about and have some additions to his defintion. Yes, a real teacher has to have a vision of where the school, and the curriculum are headed. Yes, a real teacher needs to be actively involved in meetings to make the school environment a vibrant, positive place to be, and yes it is more difficult for subs to do this than tenured teachers. My thought is, where is the focus on the learner in this definition? He mentions worrying about the whole child briefly, and then moves back to meetings, and the curriculum. A “teacher” probably should not even be restricted to a classroom environment; teachers can be found everywhere in life… anywhere that a teachable situation can occur.

But, considering the name of the occupation, those in schools are generally considered the main teachers of society… as they should be. The “real” teachers that I have learned from in my life all shared a love for learning, and not just that of the student. I beleive it to be true that a teacher who stops learning, stops teaching. The most influential teachers of my past all had dynamic lives outside of the classroom that they were willing to bring into the classroom for us to share with them. We, as students, could see the struggles and achievements of their lives at the same time that they saw struggles and achievements in ours.

Putting this post into the context of that which it was inspired by: “Real” teachers and “cool” teachers are synonymous. Real teachers bring their lives into their work. Cool teachers are able to connect to students because the students appreciate teachers who will let their guard down, be wrong, be vulnerable and experience the classroom as a learner alongside of the students.

I hope that I can move towards becoming a Real Cool Teacher in the years to come, and yes I realize that that statement is the least “cool” thing I could have said. I’m fine with that!

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