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Minecraft connections

During class, someone said that in Minecraft "like in SIMs, you are a person and you are creating a world" while trying to sum up the satisfying appeal to the game.  I completely felt this as well while playing.  There was something satisfying to being able to control my environment and decide my own course.  This is a freedom I don't always have in everyday life because of time constraints, responsibilities, and money.  These constraints don't exist in this game.

This comment also reminded me of a project my placement teacher did last year in his geometry class.  The assignment was similar to a geometry assignment I've seen many times: design your dream house.  The twist was that the class was to use google sketch-up, a google software used to make 3D models (when I worked in a blackbox theater, the set designer did his designs on this).  Using sketch-up, the students would make a virtual 3D model of their (roofless) house, and then decorate it.

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Field Notes 1

What?

I saw a lot of personal technology that would definitely not have been allowed in my high school.  There were some students with earbuds wrapped around their ears or sitting around the necks.  There were also cell phones that would appear and then disappear whenever Ms. E came around.

 

So What?

I’ve always wondered how important these tech-restricting rules were in school.  It seems to me like the students are still motivated and get their work done anyway.  Is it a matter of trust?  Can a teacher trust high schoolers to manage their own distractions and do what they need to do, or will it become the teacher’s problem to compete?  Personally, I’m all about trusting students.  When they’re out of school, they’ll need the skills to navigate life likely surrounded with technology, and hopefully they can navigate it in a productive way.

 

Now What?

I am very curious to find out about the school’s policy on personal technology and the reasoning behind it.  I already see that this school is very intentional in the way it is run, and Ms. E is very intentional about how she conducts her classroom.  I intend to also inquire about how the theory of their technology limits or non-limits matches up with the reality in the classroom.

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So what do we learn?

I'm still struggling with figuring out what should education provide for humans, considering the new role of technology.  I keep hearing the opinion that with computers around to help us, we can bypass the basics of math/science, depending on the computers for that knowledge, and skip right to the quantum mechanics and other higher-level ideas that we haven't taught computers how to do yet.  My hesitation is that I am not convinced that higher-level ideas can be accessed without an understanding of how the basics work, especially when we want to put our current ideas to the test.  I have trouble imagining a creative scientific process that relies on information feeding from computers.  Also, I think it would be really difficult to solve a higher-level problem without having first grappled with the lower-level ideas first.  Just because a machine can produce relevant information instantaneously doesn't automatically give this information meaning.  What are ways a teacher can facilitate a deeper understanding/meaning to a concept, not burdening the student with calculations that computers can do, but still bearing in mind that any program created to help foster this understanding is a human creation and can still be (and should be) called into question.

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