Monday, May 18, 2009

The Flip

On Pages 96-98 the authors speak of the flip theory in the S curve. I found it fascinating and scary. In the practical sense it my contention that we are close to a flip in the way our children learn. Today's student have such access to information that it leaves me wondering how a traditional classroom can survive. Example, look at a science or history text book from about 15 years ago if you can find one. Many things in those books are just wrong. However, it was the only true source of information that could be given to many. The teacher could always fall back on the text as a savior. Now information is so readily available a teacher is no longer the expert of a subject, nor is a college professor. Ideas are being shared and discoveries are being made daily. Our students are being introduced to topics at school and diving into them at home by a sharing of information. An example of this is part of 4th grade science at MEMS is to learn about chemical reactions and the pressure the gases given off produce. So in school an experiment was done by mixing baking soda and vinegar in a plastic film canister. Eventually the pressure builds and the top pops of. Well, this excited a group of boys. So after school that day they all got on their computers and researched other projects they could do. They chatted on line and wrote about pressure. It lead to a discussion on water rockets and boys' getting together to build rockets, which led to  whole new math and science areas. By the time they got back to school they had far exceeded the lesson and lessons grades ahead of them. The neat thing was these were not straight A students. The unfortunate thing was that, because of mandates, the curriculum moved on to something else robbing the enthusiasm the students developed. This just one of many examples that we are poised for a flip.

Lacrosse, the fastest growing sport, is another example of a flip about to occur. Traditional sports are changing. Information has allowed the sport to grow so quickly. 



  1. Thanks for sharing the story about our "rocket boys". Did they happen to catch any of the Diet Coke and Mentos videos that can be pulled down from the internet? Your post captures two critical ideas in education. First, we must honor the importance of "process", even over "content". For the classroom teacher, who is looking at last year's plans and this year's calendar, it can be nearly impossible to keep "process" in the forefront, as it is content knowledge that is measured. Second, we must recognize the power of "access". We are fortunate to live at a time when access to information is growing exponentially. We must do everything we can to keep widening that door to our students.

  2. Bill, you speak of the "flip". I can't help but think of Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, which speaks of when the moment of change becomes unstoppable and the "social epidemic" tips. Textbooks are growing obsolete, yet the "tip" to an innovative system of accessing up-to-date information has not happened. It appears as though we are teetering on the brink. At MEMS there are many teachers who are embracing new and exciting innovations in teaching, yet it seems to disrupt class TOO much and as you mentioned, repels back to the mandated curriculums.