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Reflection 5: Culture is education

After a stormy month we are finally beginning to listen deeply to each others.

I have had to remind myself that trust building takes time, and just like with my university students, we have hit the magical three months mark. The kids are no longer afraid of talking to me and are becoming more honest with me. In the process I am learning how to help them and them how to work with me.

Slowly, we are starting to have constructive sessions. They are very different from what I imagined they would be but I am starting to understand that the switch from parent to facilitator requires me to learn how to become more like a peer in our interactions and they need to feel comfortable showing me their inner worlds.

This is turning out to be a very slow process but I think really worth it. We are not progressing rapidly in terms of writing but we surely are in term of emotional and inter personal intelligence and Spanish. In other term we are more focus on communication skills right now than on others.

We have been using gaming as a way into leaning and it is very interesting to see how the kids react to the main point and reward schemes of the games. They ignore them…. This creates a very interesting problem. If the apps are not engaging using social gaming dynamics as well as iPad scenario structures, the kids bulk at them. They need a real engagement. And “kid talk” offends them… Julien and I have started to play letter games, which are hard for him and therefore more engaging.

Most of my readings indicate that key to deep listening is the recognition and  the ability to listen to our own internal voices.

This is one of the most important emotional and intellectual skills to make choices in life yet unless parents foster this ability, it is not  taught. Yet that inner voice is key to self-determination and growth.

I am seeing an overlap between that need for voice and creating games for kids with special needs. Kids oriented games deal with scenario but do not help kids learn to listen to their own voice. They teach how to consume as well as ready them for tele-markets. Reading egg is a good example of that. It is a game based learning environment that mirror a virtual world with a reward system Based on how much a kid reads. They kids earn eggs to buy commodities and like in most social games, show how much capital they have by how many objects they have. That is great training for entering the current consumer society and equate work to making money for consumption of trend goods. While i understand how this can motivate a child to use the app and read, I question the long-term outcomes.

I personally rather see learning be integrated into all aspects of life, not just the consumer aspects. This type of behavior training seems to teach children that we work because we want to spend, instead of because we want to find out about something we deeply or not so deeply care about. I would love to see quality content games begin to focus on deep listening skills, and helping kids, via simulation and games, find out how to listen to their own inner voice and engage with it as well as to learn to translate that into constructive actions and reactions…. games that do so could be very helpful in learning how to self regulate in a healthy instead of conformist way. I want my kid to do something such as reading or engage in other types of activities because it nourishes them not just “feed” them. I wish for them to seek to understand, not just collect knowledge. So, I am glad the kids do not engage with the reward system of these games. Now, how could these games dynamics used in a deep learning context?

While reading the book, the highly intuitive child by Catherine Crawford, I came across a passage that really pinned down the pedagogy of the school. Interestingly, it is about native pedagogy:

” In many of the Native American traditions, children are taught through stories that invite the child to contemplate lessons or truths in their own time. According to Basil Johnson, author of Ojiibway Heritage, ” to foster individuality and self-growth, children and youth were encouraged to draw their own inference from stories. No attempt was made to impose specific views upon them. The learner learned according to his capacity. Each according to his gifts.”Malcolm Margolin sheds light on the concept of Indian pedagogy: “the knowledge and teaching you needed were not necessarily yours because you wanted them or even worked directly for them. Knowledge often came as a gift, and the goal of Indian pedagogy was to teach people the respect and alertness necessary do that they could recognize, receive, and, in the end, use the gifts that the world had given them.” I find hat this style of teaching life’s lessons is a beautiful,arch for teaching intuitive skills. The open-ended, child-centered, deeply respectful means of eliciting and supporting learning is a terrific backdrop for absorbing these lessons. This style also underscores the importance of creating opportunity for learning and understanding, rather than simply filling a child’s mind with facts or more knowledge. This teaching style organically invites children to personally connect to the lesson instead of having it imposed on them. The result is that children often integrate these lessons deep inside instead of tucking them into the short-term memory bank. It is important for children to find their own personal meaning with these skills. Ideally, they will learn to deeply listen to and attend to allow their needs and discover for more skills than suggested within this book.

I recommend taking care to not set the bar of expectations too high for yourself or your child with the proposed skill set. These skills can take a lifetime to master (…) Even if the skills aren’t mastered by the time they leave home as young adults, the seeds for these skills will be planted and can be utilized at a time when they are ready” (2009, 119-120)

I am so glad that the grove teacher are creating a ways of knowing pedagogy for the 21st century. I wish someone would teach us, parents, too…

As the narratives and stories my children are used to are movies, books and games. I am starting to notice that the kids use electronic gaming as a means to connect to one another. So, I have started to enter their electronic games. They are thrilled…. And I hope this leads to more connection and understanding of each others ways of being and learn to listen to ourselves together.

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