Image courtesy of Steve Snodgrass
In 2010, the BBC produced a documentary series called The Genius of Design. I was taken with how design has changed over the last century and the influence it has had on so many areas of our lives. The other day, I heard a technology focused radio program which had an unusual guest considering his speciality. He is a woodworker who designs and crafts incredibly beautiful bespoke wood planers. He was in town to speak at a technology conference on the design process and how this can influence both form and function, no matter what the end product. While his target audience in this case was software and web designers, his message sparked some ideas for me in the area of curriculum and course design.
When I arrived at home, I did a little digging online and I stumbled on this ‘design manifesto’ by Stephen Hay. Stephen takes readers through the process of how to be more consistent and creative with their design work. Obviously, this is written for a different audience, that of web designers, but after reading this short document, I was intrigued at how much this parallels the design process in creating courses and programs for education. Stephen sets out five steps in the ‘design funnel’: Continue reading Designing
Image courtesy of Sudhamshu Hebbar
Back in 1986, my brother brought home a Howard Jones CD with the song No One is to Blame on it. We must have listened to that song over a hundred times over the span of that summer. Of course, I didn’t really understand that song since I was still pretty young at the time, but looking at the lyrics now, it isn’t that tough to grasp what was going on. Jones was attempting to wax poetic about the feelings of loss one feels when feelings are left unfulfilled.
While the ultimate meaning of the song does not really fit what I am writing about, I felt it was apt to start with that since nowadays there is plenty of blame to go around, especially when it comes to teaching and education. Our province in Canada is in the midst of a public teachers strike with plenty of finger pointing happening on both sides of the picket line. In other provinces, parents, teachers, and the government are waging a war of words regarding curriculum reform. The province I am in is fighting with the national government over funding for English language programs. Finally, teachers are fighting one another over what is happening in the classroom. You know what they all say? Someone is to blame. Continue reading Blaming
Image courtesy of davidd
When I was in grade eleven, I took a foods class as an elective. Most students took a language elective, but due to a long story involving a move from one part of Canada to another and a teacher who really hated me (I need to tell this story in more detail some time), I ended up dropping French in grade nine. So, here I was one of the only guys in a class of about 20 girls taking cooking and nutrition. Needless to say, it was a great choice. I actually learned a lot from that class including a pretty solid understanding of nutrition and diet. At that time, the Rotation Diet and Scarsdale diet were in vogue as a way of losing weight and we took the time to talk about fad diets and the dangers behind them. What my teacher stressed was that there was no magic bullet to losing weight and staying healthy. Eating balanced meals and exercising regularly were probably the best thing you could do to being and staying healthy.
No, I am not changing professions to become a food economics teacher, but what I do what to address is the need to find that ‘lighting in a jar’ form of teaching that will make learning so much better for your students and so much easier for the instructor. Throughout the years, methods and approaches have come and gone with varied success, but what sustains learning is something altogether different. Continue reading Dieting