Task 10: the language of creativity

Posted by Domenico on May 2, 2016

For this task I have chosen a video by American artist Michael Moshen and a TED talk by Randy Palisoc, an American teacher.

Moschen, who is one of my favourite artists and is best known for his contact juggling and his creative TED talks, has been spending lot of time in schools concentrating on the learning experience of students, helping them to think imaginatively using simple and fun tasks. From his point of view, the current education system is not giving pupils the basis to develop the three basic skills of learning: students do not know how to deal with unknowns, they do not know how to abstract and they do not know how to think relationally.

I like the way in which Moschen is trying to turn the learning environment into a ‘building environment’. Ideas should not be prioritized according to the value of how they can be tested and I think this is connected with Robinson’s aesthetic paradigm of the learning experience. In fact, in Moschen’s lessons, students have to explore simple, yet, mysterious tasks to be able to access the concepts behind them, keeping the aesthetic of the human experience. Going simple and bringing the life of concepts out that way, rather than layering too many bits of information on top of each other. This way students think about what they are doing.

Going simple. This is for me one of the keys to make maths education work.

Randy Palisoc also thinks that we need to make maths more human, again. We can do so by remembering that maths is a human construct. Salman Khan has reiterated many a time that his approach is all about humanizing the classroom experience. For Khan the key is in technology and his projects using computers are having a large success in the USA. His website is well known to many teachers and I have also used it when in need. However, in my opinion the drawback is that it all seems exam driven.

According to Mr Palisoc, maths is a human language as it allows people to communicate with each other, hence we all have the ability to understand it. However, the reason why so many children are confused about maths in the USA is because we have abstracted it beyond recognition. The instructions given in a lesson can be a real torture to kids, whereas they make sense to an expert, and I perfectly agree with it. We can learn to take a language approach so that maths becomes more intuitive and easy to understand. The key once again is in going simple.

The examples Mr Palisoc shows in his talk including simple words for basic operations are quite powerful and I think there is a lot that can be learned from it. I would also argue that this is something we have been trying to implement in our PUFM lessons, creating a link between the mathematical concept and the language we use to convey that concept.


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