***Note: This post is about this podcast: http://themoth.org/posts/stories/lego-crimes***
1. Work in Micro-worlds:
In his classic book “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization“, Peter Senge described the value of “micro-worlds” as arena’s for corporate executives to experiment with big, scary decisions. He was mostly referring to computer models and programs which simulate certain real world situations. The best part of micro-worlds, though is that participants can use them to observe the consequences (and even feel the consequences) of an action without creating them in a more drastic, larger scale or public place.
Classrooms are micro-worlds in themselves (and this will be a theme on this blog): places where we can experiment with new world orders, economies, roles, rules and more. In this story, students feel the consequences for their actions in a way that is creative and new and customized to their situation and “world” (classroom). Imagine if our justice system was more like this! Which brings me to …
(Q for the reader: what would you like to test in a micro-world? Many urban schools practice inter-ethnic and inter-cultural peace without realizing it … perhaps a icro model for world peace?)
The universal practice of improvising is commonly defined: “making something out of nothing”. The Brave New Workshop believes improvisation can “increase learning, innovation, leadership, creativity and productivity”. In fact, they travel and teach this to CEOs and business professionals worldwide.
Why do these executives demand “improv” training? Because of something many teachers know: it works. Working with people means you are forced to be either a good improviser or mediocre (bad) at what you do. The most meaningful learning in my school-age came from teachers who adapted their curriculum or teaching to meet my learning needs.
(Q for the reader: When was a time you had to improvise in your personal or professional life?)
3. Tell stories
I rarely meet a teacher who can resist telling a great story when I ask “tell me about your students … any interesting things happening in the classroom?” Teachers are natural story-tellers. In fact, story-telling is probably one of our most instinctual forms of teaching and learning.
Literacy is a relatively new thing in human history – especially at today’s rates. Before mass print lessons were shared among the masses simply by word of mouth. The most-celebrated leaders throughout history were often some of the most-celebrated speakers of their time. We have a long history of word-of-mouth learning. We are hard-wired for stories. Educators who speak for students young and old each day practice this ancient and celebrated art. Micaela Blei calls herself a story-teller and I think we all agree that this is an understatement.
(Q for the reader: What’s your favorite classroom story? How have you experienced the power of stories in your life?)