I continue to fine Thomas Huxley’s quote about how children learn a reminder of how we can create new ways of teaching. Here is the quote I am referring to:

Sit down before what you see and hear like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.

In the  20 May 2013 issue of The New Yorker, I read about 4 groups of people who though they might never have heard of Thomas Huxley much less read the statement he wrote in the 19th century, have in fact followed his advice.

The first article in which two people who shed their preconceived notions is about replacing Styrofoam as a packing material with mushroom based packing material. The goal of Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer is to make plastics obsolete using a molecule found in mushrooms that is extremely strong and it turns out not all that difficult to produce form waste products! I cannot do justice to the childlike imaginations of these two people. Read the article by Ian Frazier.

In the second article, Michael Specter  describes ways that people are trying to produce electricity from airborne turbines rather than turbines on hillsides on the earth. Again the idea of trying the opposite–turbines in the air like kites rather than mounted on the earth.

In Laptop U, Nathan Heller discusses differences and similarities between learning in a classroom with a teacher in front of you live and learning on line either with a teacher present in a video image live on line or in a course in which you only read what the teacher says both about the topic and about your questions and your work. You will find the pros and cons of on line learning very stimulating because Nathan is like a child–open!

The final article about trying alternatives deals with ways to deal with dementia care. Rebecca Mead describes in moving and detailed ways how some nursing homes are providing “new ways to care for people with dementia.”

I was astonished to find 4 articles about breaking rules in 4 totally separate fields. I hope that you can read at least one of the 4 and that as you read about being open like a child to alternatives you will feel more comfortable trying alternatives in your classroom.

I have suggested ways to provide alternatives in previous blogs. But these are all static. I am teaching a live on line course called Breaking more rules with iTDi starting the 9th of June at 9 pm Tokyo time. A recording of the first session to introduce the course on the 2nd of June you can access on the iTDi website–International Teacher Development Institute.

Enjoy, enjoy.

John

PS Coincidentally, in the 1 June issue of The Economist, in an obituary of one Heinrich Rohrer, I found still another example of a person who with his colleague Gerd Binnig started the nanotechnology world. “Many other scientists had said it [the gadget they developed] never could [work]. They mocked the project not least because nether Dr Rohrer and Dr Binnig had no background either in surface science or in microscopy. . . .But in 1986 whey the pair received the Nobel prize for physics, it took its rightful place as chief pathfinder through the new nano-worlds.”

So imagine all the possibilities! Do not be discouraged by critics but keep exploring just as children do until adults or peers keep pressuring them to confirm with what is accepted and in many case wrong beliefs and practices.