Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thoughts from the Lawn Mower

Anybody do their best thinking as they are mowing their lawn? It is just you, the lawn,the lawnmower, and hopefully a big blue sky like today. No distractions!! Sometimes, I think if I kept going, I could almost solve most of the world's problems. But today as I sat on my lawnmower for my 2 hour think session, my thoughts kept going back to Chapters 4 and 5 that I just read in our Disrupting Class book. These chapters helped me to see what a student-centric classroom would look like and how it will be accomplished.

The student-centric classroom does sound interesting and as Gabe comments about his blog, a little like entering "The Twilight Zone". However, it concerns me a little bit. As a business teacher, I take great pride in attempting to teach the students how to be financially savvy. We always have great discussions, especially in the economic times that we are encountering today. In the student-centric classroom, where the book says on page 101:

"teachers will always remain in schools, increasingly functioning as one-on-one tutors rather than teaching monolithically and computer-based and student-centric learning will enable a teacher to oversee the work of more students"

I can take a deep breath to know I will still have a job and I do think technology can be a great asset to our classroom. However, if students are working on their own as they work according to their needs with a certain type of software, will we lose the group discussions where students get a chance to express their opinion in front of others as well as help others in the class understand the information better? Call me a little old fashioned, but I do think students still need to have the opportunity to learn to talk and express their ideas in front of an audience and not just texting them on a phone or typing on a computer. With all the great things a student-centric classroom has to offer, are we taking away teaching them a very important skill- becoming comfortable speaking in front of a live audience? Will having more students in my classes limit the relationships that I develop with my students in my classroom as CathyO discussions in her post "So They Want to Disrupt My Classroom?"?

As I was looking for a picture of a lawnmower, I came across some lawnmower games. Maybe I will have the students play a quick lawnmower game to get them to really put on their thinking caps. =-)


  1. Very nice post Marcus! I agree that the student-centric ideal might contribute even more to students' decline in conversation, cooperation and presentation. Whenever I speak to people in "the real world" (business or industry), they say that these soft skills are what students lack the most. We do our students a disservice if we remove human interaction. Like CathyO said in that blog, "Learning is an emotional experience."

  2. I had to try out those lawnmower games. The first one I could not figure out, but that second one could get addicting!
    I also love to mow the lawn and think or take a walk by myself and think. I come up with some awesome ideas, but not necessarily realistic.
    I think there are many concerns about the student-centric classroom, also. But, I believe that any issues will get worked through. For instance, maybe students could Skype and interact with others around the US and/or World?

  3. I am glad that others were thinking about the "human" part of learning, also. Jkies point about soft skills is very insightful. I definitely think technology will build more student-centric lesson capability. However, I just fear it will be a good excuse to add more student numbers in our workloads and then expect the same results. We'll see, I guess...

  4. I concur with you about the "soft skills" and how more and more college grads are lacking it...There will have to be a balance, as I believe these "digital natives" will still need to be able to speak, write and listen in whatever job they do!

  5. Lawn mowing is a thought provoker.
    I was interested in your idea that student-centric class would take away "the opportunity to learn to talk and express their ideas in front of an audience." Why can't student share their ideas with others in front of a class?
    Student-centric means that it isn't teacher-centric. Students don't spend the whole day listening to a lecture by the teacher.

    BTW, I tried your lawnmower game and failed miserably.