I’ve been writing the blog for Stony Brook University’s Innovation Center, linked below, for some time now. Each post applies one or more components of what I call The Uniform Structure of Information to various facets of work and life as the basis for all innovativeness. I’ve taught the process in a couple of thousand class rooms, from 1st Grade to MBA students and post-doctoral psychologists, delineating it through how I was talking about what they were learning at the time. I also interviewed luminaries throughout the arts on their Common Bonds while editing a theater magazine, which turned out to be … The Uniform Structure of Their Information one way or another, more explicitly or implicitly. http://www.innovationcenterstonybrook.com/Home/Blog/tabid/146/Default.aspx
Guess What: everybody’s been barking up the wrong tree all along. No wonder education isn’t getting anywhere, for all the mucky-mucks’ and innovation consultants’ high-falutin’ Problem Solving, Project Based, Common Core, Standards (I forget which came first) programs, and whatever is already in the pike next. In fact, sad to say, for everyone concerned, it’s been going nowhere but downhill for the vast majority of students and teachers for a loooong time. Nature is the original and still the best model for nurture. Feed down the food chain, not up. Fawget about the feds, the superintendents, and all the rest. Every genius like Einstein says the trick is to keep thinking like a child. The really smart people have been sitting right in front of you the whole time you’ve been getting nothing but grief, trying to follow what the people above you are saying. Let them teach you! How else are they going to learn how to learn for themselves? Pop this simple, singular question to them, and watch what kind of magic happens, time and time again: What Does This Look Like, which you already know or have done many times? Ask them not to blurt out the answer until enough others have gotten an answer, to have a discussion. I start every—I repeat, every—class asking students to sit still for a single minute. Pascal wrote that most of life’s problems stem from someone being unable to sit still in a room. Like most skills, it’s trickier than it seems. Unruly students tend to be restless, to begin with, and particularly enjoy being challenged to sit or stand still for a single minute. In hundreds of instances, only one unruly student pulled it off. I knew right away that he would when I saw him relax, instead of clench. So I asked, following the pattern delineated in my profile, if he’s ever seen someone spill a bag of chips or pretzels, or bottle of soda, in their haste to open it. Who hasn’t? I hardly needed to add that much of his gifts were likewise going to waste from neglecting to take the time to open them properly and allow them to unfold. Then I remind students to listen with one ear to what I am saying; with the other, to how I am saying it. What I teach will change from subject to subject, and every day for each subject, just as magazine articles and TV shows are different in each magazine and show, every issue and episode. How I teach each lesson will be uniform, with anecdotes and analogies illustrating each point, so you see what you don’t understand in terms of what you already know. That is very different from making lessons relevant. Several clinical studies have proven that people retain and use ever kind of information even better when it is illustrated with anecdotes and analogies than when they already know what is on tests. In other words, making lessons relevant, without illustrating its relevance that way, is to render its relevance irrelevant!
They are largely in the business world, to which I have gone back and forth from teaching three times, applying what I learned in the class room there. What would teachers care about being inducted into the small business lobby's (National Federation of Independent Business) Hall of Fame, for example, or winning their Presidents Award nine times? A 2nd Grader asked me to do more magic tricks the second time I showed up in her class, two months since the first. Not knowing any, I asked what she meant. “The way you talk,” she says, "turning things into other things again and again." A 4th Grader asked if the way I talk is how you GET outside the box. A 6th Grader asked—brace yourself—if you can change your whole brain that way, continually relating one thing to others like it. Turns out he was right. A neuroscience professor, who was involved in a study of nuns’ diaries, which correlated communicating that way--using what you know in ever new ways—as the sole safeguard against Alzheimer’s, told me she can tell from someone’s emails at 17 what their brain will look like at 70 better than from a brain scan then. In all three cases, their classmates turned to them, only then giving them to realize that they were doing the magic trick, had gotten outside the Box, and brains had already changed.
Martin Van Buren High School, Hey.Hey University of California at Berkeley, B.A. Stony Brook University, M.A.
www.LearnHow2Learn.com Soon to be a major motion website A school administrator described it to colleagues, by way of introducing me, as A Microsoft of the Mind. A board member of Dale Carnegie told me, by way of inviting me to speak at their annual conference, that they'd been trying for decades t figure out how to make people fat-out smarter, instead f just stuffing their heads with solutions, and he realized after reading it that they never would, and I had. The Executive Director of an international teacher training company, which has since merged into PLS3rdLearning, said I'd boldly taken Constructivism where no one ever dreamed of going before.