In this article, I will be closing out the third session of day two from FutureSchools 2016, a presentation by Jill Margerison (@DrJMargerison), who is a teacher and the Associate Dean of E-Learning at The Southport School in Queensland. If you missed the previous article, you can find it here. Jill was speaking under the heading Perception, Imagination and Creativity – Bringing new thinking to patterned thinking and began by reminding us that society has, and is, changing rapidly and that this has lead to a change in the locus of power and control in education, that progressive education strategies are shifting the locus of control more in the favour of students.
This, Jill told us, has increased the importance of data and the ability to understand, analyse and utilise data and that despite Marc Prensky’s notion of digital natives still being alive and well, it does not necessarily hold up as true in practice. From my own experience thus far, very few of my students knew the difference between the address bar and the search box on Google, and when I would ask them to type in a web address, they would often type it into the search bar on Google’s search page (which was the default homepage) and then be confused about why the website was not loading. Jill’s point was that a student being a digital native does not necessarily translate into their being able to utilise the technology to its full capacity and solve problems better or more efficiently than teachers.
Jill made the point that students can get lost in the technology and be happy being lost, with terms such as YouTube diving and wiki-diving and that leveraging that interest for creative purposes is important as creativity has been linked to positivity and wellbeing, as well as to mindfulness, which is, increasingly, an issue vis-a-vis student anxiety. Jill spoke about the fact that children have an innate creativity, but that somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the creativity is lost, or as Sir Ken Robinson has said, it has been “…educated out of us.”
The now famous Alvin Toffler quote about the illiterate of the future being those unable to learn, unlearn and relearn was brought up and used as a segue into a brief discussion about the East-Asia Leadership Summit and the conversations at that event vis-a-vis the need for students’ thinking to be able to be divergent, convergent and perceptual. Jill pointed out that divergent thinking as a brainstorming process is not about generating the correct answer or solution, nor will it inherently increase academic results to be able to brainstorm well (however you might define that), but that it is a skill which is integral to problem-solving processes. Layered on top of the need for divergent thinking is the need to also be able to think convergently, and reach a single well-established result. Perceptual thinking was defined within this context as having an awareness of the mood around an idea, situation or context and being able to adjust thinking patterns within that frame of reference.
Jill closed by speaking about a teacher exchange between The Southport School and a school in Malaysia, which then led to collaborative learning utilising Google Hangouts to communicate and learn about each others’ cultures, expanding global awareness and forging strong international links.
I found Jill’s talk to be very interesting and there were thematic links between Jill’s talk and some other presentations, particularly Jim Sill, who closed out the conference on Day day three. I hope that you have found some benefit from this article, and as always, thank you for reading.
If you have missed any articles in this series, you can find them here.