Thursday, October 30, 2014

Old school

I took on an additional extracurricular role this fall, coaching our high school's scholar's bowl team. We have our last county tournament today, but basically my Wednesdays and Thursday have been spent with a bunch of smarty pants kids, mostly boys.

There are differences from my own scholar's bowl days 25 years ago. Looking at those, you can practically hear the coaches thinking about ways to increase collaboration -- "worksheets" of twenty questions which whole teams (six players, including the two alternates) work to complete in two minutes and "bouncebacks" where opposing teams can "steal" bonus points, so they have to listen to the other team's bonus questions.

The content itself isn't that different, and neither are the skills. There's a lot of recall, a lot of drill and memorization of dry facts like names and dates. So basically, it's the embodiment of everything they keep telling us twenty first century learning is NOT.

So I spend most of my days showing kids how to find information using external sources, but then I have these afternoons concerned with what students can do without tools. It is cognitively dissonant, but very very fun.

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