The Changing Role of Education
Nov 17th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I recently came across a great YouTube video featuring Ken Robinson speaking about education and I find it thought provoking.  Although I think there are a few generalizations that are a bit over the top – his connections are very important.  His talk was overlayed with an interesting video “sketch.”  My favorite part is at time index: 7:42 where he talks about creativity.  I always wonder how much authority teachers are willing to “give up” to allow students to be truly independent and self-directed.  I certainly see strong examples in problem solving, but I think education, in general, is still weak in creativity.  As I continue to struggle with an operational definition for creativity, I like what Ken has to say about creativity:

I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value.

I am much more comfortable with my problem finding definition, which of course is a little longer:

Problem finding is the creative ability to define or identify a problem. The process involves consideration of alternative views or definitions of a problem that are generated and selected for further consideration. Problem finding requires individuals to set objectives, define purposes, decide what is interesting, and ultimately decide what they want to study.

If you have a little over 10 minutes, it’s well worth the watch:

Center for 21st Century Skills
Nov 17th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I recently made a job change: I am now the Director of the Digital Arts and Sciences Academy in the Center for 21st Century Skills @ Education Connection.

I look forward to developing new and innovative blended learning programs in STEM and digital arts with an absolutely fabulous and creative staff.

New journeys ahead!

Students long to be creative
Nov 6th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I facilitated a workshop several Saturdays ago for the Connecticut Science Fair.  The topic was:

Strategies for improving middle school science fair project quality.

The workshop was opened to students and teachers to learn about both the problem finding process.  I challenge the fold, quite frequently asking participants to challenge their own engrained biases to move students to a point where they value and understand the problem fnding process.

This workshop had an “interesting” participant:  an English teacher who felt that a special education student should be able to choose a project that would be deemed low quality by a panel of authentic judges.  This bothers me for several reasons.  The first, is because the teacher finds little to no value in the problem finding process. Problem finding is about exploring, questioning, and thinking to determine an idea and avoiding the hasty, non-invested, often irrelevant and value-lacking idea.  All students can learn about value by recognizing an authentic audience that would appreciate the student’s work.

Second, the teacher thinks that a special needs student is not capable of original, creative thought.  I also reject this idea with years of experience and many students who have challenged the fold to make a meaningful, relevant project.  Several of my identified (SpeEd or 504) students have developed and carried out projects that have been recognized at the NATIONAL level.  They are competing with some of the top students from around the world.  They have demonstrated that perhaps their learning style is different than some of their compatriots.  They learn in a different fashion, and when given the opportunity, shine masterfully.

We do any and all students a disservice when we classify or compartmentalize them based on perceived deficiencies.  We really need to recognize that every student, given motivation, appropriate scaffolding, and high quality mentorship can be successful

The Beauty of Long Island Sound
Nov 6th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Matthew Housekeeper, who blogs at Soundbounder, recently posted about the season change on Long Island Sound.  I think there’s something to be said about the beauty and grandeur of nature along with the underlying biology that makes this beauty possible.

Matthew Housekeeper, Soundbounder


Here’s an excerpt:

November is lonely on the water. An occasional commercial boat is the only other vessel you may see. The shoreline in the distance seems deserted too. Gone are the crowds that flocked to these beaches just six weeks ago. Waterfront homes that overflowed with guests, look empty and silent. Their awnings and Adirondack chairs have been removed from the lawn. Only an occasional whiff from a fireplace tells you that someone is home. A lighthouse that seemed like a quaint image for artists and tourists in June, becomes a utilitarian navigation aid in November.

November is also a sad month on the water. No matter how enjoyable the time might be, you know the days are numbered. This year is no different, as my day is spent looking back in time, rather than forward. I think of my trip to the Thimble Islands, and a starry night anchored in West Harbor. Any sort of thought to suppress my approaching winter ashore. The seasons of the year have come full circle.

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