Down the Rabbit Hole

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Down the Rabbit Hole

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZhAAAAJDI3YjZjOGEwLTcyNjItNDI0Ny1iMDM4LTA4YTQ0MjQxMzcwMA-1 Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole

As teens, we all needed validation for our actions. Especially those actions  that lead to some form of academic success.  The truth, if fully known, was that as a teenager, that path was often riveted with rabbit holes. Many times in the process of learning, our foot would slip and down we would go.  The best thing we could  hope for was  a caring/forgiving teacher  waiting for us at the end of that hole, to help us get back up on our feet again. We also hoped our parents would be there to support us as we tried again to master the tasks we were being asked to do.

 The real teaching starts at the bottom of the hole.  It begins when you have a student or group of students who have given up.  Given up on education; the system that is supposed to be there for them.  They have given up on attempting to better their place in society.  Some have even given up on their families because the home environment is so toxic.  That is where the real teaching begins.  I want to put this out there:   validation – kids you are worth it.

 Validation – kids you are worth it

You cannot plan for a student to fail - not unless you are a monster.  There is so much going on in a students  world that helps contribute to the process of failing, flunking out, acting out, and not caring about how their behavior affects others.   Sometimes their behavior is off the charts – but a good teacher will not react.  A good teacher knows that you have to slowly bring your student(s) back up the rabbit hole.  It is okay if you  spend a little extra of your time to help them dig out – those kids need your time.  That is what they are missing “time”.

 That is what they are missing “ time”.

 With time comes consistency.  With consistency comes knowledge.  Each student will have a different perspective when it comes to learning.  As with discovery learning which  utilizes the techniques of a variety of instructional methods.  For example: just using the basic terminology of Problem Based Learning (PBL), Discovery  Learning (DL), and Inquiry Learning (IL) you have to have some type of a knowledge base for your student(s) to  start from.  

 Direct instruction or step-by-step learning is good in many cases, but if the students already have a solid knowledge base, then a constructive learning environment with some scaffolding tools can become an effective learning environment.  You have to meet your students where they are. Some are stuck in a rabbit hole, and they keep digging deeper.  It is your job to help them turn back up the hole. 

 Not all learners will be same.  A good instructor and/or designer should be open to the differences and adjust methods accordingly.  You need a good knowledge base within a constructive learning environment for  your students.  A beginner  student, can and will run into cognitive overload very quickly if  they don't have a good knowledge base. That overload is subject to  increase exponentially when the student has already experienced education in a negative way.  

re Down the Rabbit Hole

Students who have experienced  overload, can and will form a pack – a disruptive pack if left to their own devices.  Students  will act out alone and/or together, and you will find your classroom out of control because of it.  

So what can you do to help  as a teacher,  to stop your student from  running down a rabbit hole?  The first thing is to admit that you might have something to do with the problem.  Once you can admit that - then you can start looking for what went right.  That is  the answer - what went right.  When we start to examine the things that went right, no matter how small, that gives us a starting point. What went right  is your strength. 

I am not a collaborative learner by nature.  A lot of students I know aren't either.  I prefer to work from my own little sphere; minimal collaboration is best for me. But, at the same time I have learned to work with others and collaborate very well.  It took time, and  I didn’t change overnight,  I wouldn’t expect my students to change overnight either. 

Cognitive overload is such a real concern for me - but if left alone I discover what needs taken care of - and I do it.  Sometimes we need to give our students time to figure out the problem(s) too.  Time – it’s what it takes.

 The scaffolding techniques that I use are of course - are the computer and the internet.  Everything is online. I need to have access to terminology and quick reference definitions. I have to understand what I'm reading.  Take for instance the three basic constructive learning models.  Problem-Based Learning (PBL), Inquiry Learning and Discovery Learning.  One could take a cursory look at these and assume they are the same, but they are not.   Our  students cannot tell the difference  either,  yet many instructors attempt to make them do so right off the bat.   Our student, are all uniquely  different.  They can fall within any  combination of all the learning models listed above. The can also fall down a rabbit hole. 

 Problem-based learning attempts to provide the learner with self-directedflexible knowledge,  and fundamental incentives.  The outcome of PBL is to have students learn the process and content together.   Whereas, Inquiry Learning, which includes PBL, is often a facilitated approach to the investigation of problems or questions dealing with research or projects.  Discovery learning utilizes the techniques of a variety of instructional methods.    The learner already has a knowledge base from which to pull from, and they use that base in more of an experimental capacity to explore and manipulate data or objects.  

They use that base in more of an experimental capacity to explore and manipulate data or objects   

Not all environments need to be highly controlled.   Minimal guidance learning environments can be just as effective, especially if given the right scaffolding tools  with the student learned knowledge base.

While all the models proclaim to do basically the same thing – some models contain more built-in guidance, than the other.    Direct instruction is not always best over PBL, IL or DL.  Scaffolding can make tasks easier, reduce the learners cognitive load, and helps to point out complexity.  A lot still depends on being able to examine the context and students whom you are working with.  Each will have a different perspective.  

 As we begin to help our student climb back out of the rabbit hole – we need to make sure we are back-filling  that hole with a strong knowledge base.  Sometimes back-filling means we have to try a different approach and give it time, while examining what went right - and keep doing it. 


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The philosophy and principles of business cannot be fully taught from a lecture podium

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAV_AAAAJDY0Y2Y4OGMxLTZiMDAtNDhjNC05YTNlLWY0ZGRiNTg4YWYwOA The philosophy and principles of business cannot be fully taught from a lecture podium

The philosophy and principles of business cannot be fully taught from a lecture podium

 There is a fairly large gap between academia and the business world. What you are taught in college is not necessarily going to equate to real world settings.  Life is not a pre-defined scenario.  Rather, it is more like a jungle of pandemonium; or simply organized chaos.  There are those in academia that tend to struggle with the concepts of business and social welfare when confronted with honest debate about current affairs.   

An unfortunate turn for students attending college or a university is locking horns with a tenured professor who has not worked in the business or social realm for decades.  Their views often can be harsh and demeaning toward anyone who is not willing to see things the way they do.  Their stances is, " You either see it my way or its the highway". 

You either see it my way or the highway.

As harsh as the above statement is, by not following it - it can equate to a student not getting a passing grade or a working recommendation from a department or dean.  The philosophy and principles of business cannot be fully taught from a lecture podium.  You may gain from learning about certain ideologies,  but  unless you have put your practice to the test, an ideology it shall remain.    The business world waits for no one; and is in constant change.

The business world waits for no one, and is in constant change.

What I have found from my own experience is that  professors who have held positions in the business economic sector, tend to be better versed in their styling and presentations.  They speak from knowledge they have gained while working in an active business environment.  They also tend to be more conservative in both speech and demeanor, and often have more engaged students.  Their lectures are rich in culture and diversity, and filled with real-world experiences.  

We all have our past university professors that have either encouraged or inspired us.  I have to acknowledge a few from the Logan and Wasatch Utah areas:  Dr. Scott Allred,  Dr. Dwight  Israelsen, and  Dr. Ronda MenLove.   While there were many others professors in the technological field in which I  was involved, that is another story.   

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQ6AAAAJDViM2E5ZmU5LWQ1YTEtNDU3MS1hMmM2LWZkZDc5NzY0OGYxOA-1024x768 The philosophy and principles of business cannot be fully taught from a lecture podium                                Dusty and the Crew at Graduation

It is hard to find instructors who have a strong background in business, as well as  social, economic or political backgrounds. What we have to fear from academia are those professors whose ideologies  have taken a more progressive stance, and refuse to adhere to common sense rules, and sound foundations.  They often try to put the horse before the cart,  by injecting too much of their own opinions and biases.  Students miss out on valuable learning processes due to these inadequacies.  While change is inevitable, teaching from a podium filled with one’s own personal opinions, while leaving out key concepts,  defeats the purpose of academia.   

There is a big difference between experience and opinion.  We all have opinions, and we need to form them.  But first we must be taught the smaller concepts so the horse doesn’t run us over right out of the chute.  

Some things to consider while you are preparing your students to enter the chute of life:

  • Practice discipline in oneself, and think before you say it
  • Practice listening to your students, and not your own thoughts
  • Try not to make up your mind before you have even heard what someone has said
  • Your opinion is just that – an opinion. Until it is proved otherwise adhere to the tried and true
  • Don’t destroy your students careers because you do not have the same viewpoint
  • Don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong, and you will be wrong
  • A cushiony environment where you control all the elements – doesn’t necessarily equate to a happy environment.  
  • Listen to your staff.  They are in the trenches, they report to you
  • Remember, you are also expendable
  • Respect differences, but don’t draw negative or positive attention to them
  • You are not a student, it’s not your learning experience, it’s theirs. If you learn something in the process, you are probably an excellent instructor. 

Your students.