In this approach, learning occurs when students process new information or knowledge in such a way that makes sense to them in their frame of reference. This approach to learning and teaching assumes that the mind naturally seeks meaning in context – that is, in the environment where the person is located and that it does so through searching for relationships that make sense and appear useful. Another advantage of grounding learning in real-life contexts is that it helps students to see the ‘why’ and the applications, of what they are learning.
This principle applies to promote teamwork and collaboration between students, but it also refers to the collaborative relationship between the teacher and students. Collaborative learning is an approach deeply rooted in the work of Vygotsky and Piaget, both of whom saw learning as a social phenomenon It is also closely associated with the approaches of shared, situated and embedded cognition, which view learning as the result of a complex interaction of minds within specific cultural contexts, and emphasize the social structures within which those interactions occur.
In these approaches “knowledge is not something that is handed down from one partner to another. Rather, knowledge is co-constructed through interactions among collaborators”.
During our school year, we will, for example, run a 3-4 month mandatory extra-curricular format for the 9th and 10th graders, to start work utilizing some of the above, for the world they are soon to embark on, moving from school to internships, to universities and work beyond.
As an example, we run, elevator pitches, why? Well, if you are at an educational event, or university milk round, and all graduates are wanting to catch the attention of all on offer and each company, you need to know what to say, how, and concisely in 1 minute – the length of an elevator pitch. Very useful to avoid the ‘fluff’, get right to the point and network effectively and be remembered.
We like to run them in the form of a workshop, therefore, getting the chance to really feel what it is like to be the interviewee and be aware of some of the top questions they are most likely to be asked, either at interview, 1 or 2, or internship, again for university or work. They can also take the part of the interviewer and see if from their targets’ perspective.
Even introducing Extreme Question Techniques (a Steve Jobs favourite) however, increasingly common into today's competitive environment. An example of such would be, ‘would you rather face a 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?’ What is the purpose of such a question after you have pondered how to answer? It’s a psychology-based question to find out if you like multi-tasking or not!
The full approach. Yes, it includes public speaking, a well- known fear for many, so we look at ways of managing those anxieties, methods of controlling the situation, how to interact with your audience and keep control, whilst maintaining a relaxed and enjoyable interaction.
Body language, voice, use of movement both of you and the space around you and what actually gets written on the slides versus your talk time. Actually, from one country to another, this alone can vary significantly.
Having worked around the world, a presentation slide for example in the USA, one would expect to find on the slide basically what the presenter would read off for you (like a reading lesson). Just their style. However, in the UK, for example, the fewer the words on the slide, the better, as then you hold the attention of your audience, as they then have to listen to the words you speak to enlighten them on what your slides are conveying. Personally, this for me is by far the better approach for keeping your audience engaged.
So, this is how we have been working with our higher grades. Why? This is what they will be facing and soon and the earlier they practice these art forms, overcome fears and worries and put into practice now what they will be doing and establishing their uniqueness in the real world, we believe the better.