What is an Education... and what is Intelligence?

If when reading the title of this post, you expect to find an answer to the question above, somewhere below, then I am sorry to disappoint you. I do NOT have the answer. This is more of a reflection for me and as with all of my posts, I can only share my opinion. I welcome you to share yours by commenting.

Education, as defined by Dictionary.com is "the result produced by instruction, training or study."

From the same source, Intelligence is defined as "the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc."

I think the real questions here are... What does one have to do with the other? Does getting an education mean that you become more intelligent? Do you need intelligence to get an education? Is intelligence something your born with, or learn... through the process of education? As I said before... I don't know the answer.

I recently returned from San Francisco where I attended The Learning & the Brain Conference - iGeneration: How The Digital Age Is Altering Student Brains, Learning & Teaching. Although multi-tasking, task-switching, gaming, attention and deep concentration seemed to be the largest debates, I went there with the intention of finding out more about (among many other things, some previously mentioned) what a developmentally appropriate level of technology use would be for elementary school age children. As it turns out, there is a ton of conflicting research... and I was left with no solid answer which I was sure I would come away with. I guess the best "middle of the road" statement came from a keynote speaker at the conference, Marc Prensky, author of Teaching Digital Natives, "Don't Bother me mom -I'm learning", and Digital Game-based Learning. He said and truly believes "Technology is developmentally appropriate when the child shows an interest in it."

I also learned a valuable lesson while listening to another keynote speaker at the conference. This one from Dr. James Paul Gee, and I have adapted it in my own mind to support my thoughts regarding the approach to technology and learning. He said "You don't read a book to learn biology. You do biology to prepare you to read the book about biology. After all, did your mom tell you to shut your mouth until you learn English?"

I have said before that I think we have come a long way with technology, quite quickly, and that we do a great job using technology as a tool to teach. However, perhaps it's time to begin learning how our students best learn with technology as a tool by encouraging free exploration. Let's let them find the best way for them to learn by using it (under supervision, of course). Now some of you might say... "When do we have the time to let them explore freely?"... or maybe there is a fear of the unknown. Well... I've got news for you.... YOU don't have to learn how to do it... THEY do! I know it's a little scary, but technology has become such a personal and dynamic tool, that every student in your class may use it differently to help them learn. And, they may use it differently today then they did yesterday, and maybe differently tomorrow from today. It's an evolving process that will continue throughout their lifelong learning. You are there to be their guide... to help them find the best way for them and their learning style. As Marc Prensky also said "Don't try to keep up with technology... you can't. It'll just make you feel stupid."

This is partly why we don't teach "technology skills" anymore, as many other schools do. What and where to click, and which program or app to use is really irrelevant. What's really important is how they view technology as a consumption and creativity tool for learning (think 21st century skills, communication, collaboration, critical thinking ,etc.). Instead of teaching how to make a Power Point, teach them what makes a good presentation, and show them all of the tools that they can use to make it (Power Point, Keynote, Prezi, Google Docs, etc.). Teach them that they need to respect the technology, themselves, and others while using it. They need to be responsible with it and also know when it's appropriate or when it's too much or too little (which is still heavily debated). It's about being honest and kind while using it. It's about citizenship... both physical and digital! Sound familiar?

With that, I leave you with this wonderfully inspiring talk from one of my favorite speakers, Sir Ken Robinson, and amazingly animated by RSA Animate. Please enjoy and be inspired.

I hope you found this post (my reflection) to be useful and thought provoking. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I look forward to hearing your comments. :)

See you next post.


Anonymous said...

I think you might have to throw "personal experiences" into the conversation/link/ difference between education and intelligence? J.G

Will Stewart said...

Great post, sir. It really is truly amazing how far technology has come in such a short amount of time. The funny thing is that smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc are all becoming as ubiquitous as cars. They are everywhere so it would behoove anyone who teaches children to include it in their "education."

Interestingly enough, the latin root of education is "educare" which means to "draw out" of. So it's not that we are educating our students on technology but, like you said, guiding them through the process. There are new apps and such coming out everyday so its impossible to keep track. They are just tools; however, if we can focus our technology education on principles like every child is an INDIVIDUAL, we can start from somewhere. What is it that that student needs? Where do they look? How do they distinguish appropriate technology between one task and another?

Keep posting, sir. We need more educators like you out there.

Anonymous said...

It is helpful!Thank you!