Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More on the authentic learning question

I found this today when testing out Google Scholar. The reference appears at my reference page.
"On the other hand, a syllabus that is based, or that draws heavily on authentic children's stories, provides a motivating medium for language learning while fostering the development of the thinking skills that are needed for L2 academic literacy. Literature can also act as a powerful change agent by developing pupils' intercultural awareness while at the same time nurturing empathy, a tolerance for diversity, and emotional intelligence. This is an important consideration at a time when our world is becoming smaller, yet increasingly hostile."

This is one of the strongest cases I can think of for authentic learning. I read to my children from the time they were born. I also read to my baby grandson. Whether it's through reading or watching TV or just listening in on conversation, children pick up language and culture by what they see and hear. Children start to vocalise before they learn to crawl or walk. My grandson is only four months old but he has been moving his mouth into shapes and making noises when we talk to him since about 4 weeks. He has only just learnt to roll over. Language is one area where authentic learning takes place naturally. By the time children attend school (at around age 4), they're already well armed with the process of language. The only technology we use initially is what we were born with - our vocal organs, our eyes and our ears (or, if you're Helen Keller, the palm of your hand and your fingers).

I believe technology isn't just about gadgets and widgets. It's about what you do with the things you have. We, as humans, have been using technology since the dawn of (our) time. We banged rocks together to break open a nut - technology. We attached a rock to a stick and threw it at an animal - technology. We move the mouse to get the screen to light up - technology.

Technology has always been there as part of our education, whether it be a drawing in the sand, a slate in the classroom or the new uber-cool whiteboards. When cave men sat around a fire showing their sons how to knapp flint they were educating with technology. I just get to use computers to teach in my classroom, but the effect will be the same, I'll be working with technology.

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