I have just had the privilege of participating in five days of learning about ‘Classroom Instruction That Works’ by McREL. One of the nine research based and proven strategies to enhance student learning is looking for similarities and differences and the vcreation of metaphors is a powerful way to do this.
So, let’s have a shot at it!
Is your brain: A library?
Do you somehow seem to inhabit a huge store of information and do you hunt for the place where what you need is stored every time you think? Is thinking about pulling the right ‘books’ off the right ‘shelves’ and then putting the contents of the books together in an operable amalgamation of what you know?
Or is it more like a factory?
Is your brain an incredibly complex manufacturing process? Do you feed in the raw materials of experience and perception, process them with the innate capacities of your mind and then produce thoughts, feeling and actions?
I suspect the closest metaphor for the brain is actually the smart phone.
Inside my Iphone I have a huge library of information that grows and changes every time I do anything with it. It is an electronic factory that processes every interaction it has with the world outside, be it via my keystrokes or because of its connection to the world through the internet.
The Iphone I pick up this morning will be subtly different from the Iphone I put down last night. New connections will have been made between programs, new updates will have appeared for my apps, bits and pieces will have been coming and going through the night as the internet itself has changed and grown.
My Iphone is a plastic, dynamic accumulation of interconnections housed in some protective hardware – a case that protects it from the knocks and accidents the world can inflict.
It’s amazing, but its nowhere near as powerful as the human brain.
Imagine the possibilities when we combine the power of our brains with the power of the smart phone, the tablet and the internet.
As part of my work with McREL I had the thrilling experience of visiting a primary school on Friday where those possibilities are opening up.
Every classroom had an Apple TV. The kids had Ipads and Iphones on their tables. They used them to research, to check word meanings and spellings, to share their work with others and with the class. These devices were becoming as common place as paper, pencils, and books in these classrooms. But I was aware, as were the teachers, that they are only skimming the surface.
Imagine the opportunities these media will provide as they extend children’s brain power into the internet, as they provide tools for collaboration and demonstration, as they extend the possibilities for creative, innovative thought beyond the here and now.
It makes we wish I was forty years younger so I could be around in another forty years and look at the world these kids will have created.
I am an optimist!