For the past month or so the TECHS class has been working with HTML, CSS and Java. As a final product, the students will produce a simple slideshow web app. Programing is just out of my expertise, I learned Pascal in high school. But, my job has sparked ideas for different apps for education. So, I have been taking the class too. And I reached a level of knowledge that I took the T3 Workshop and remixed it as a web app (See the Web App page).
But the process has reinforced a few ideas I have about education.
First, 50 minutes a day is not a way to learn something. I spent hours studying code, experimenting with code, and researching code. On Friday, I spent a couple of solid hours working with my app idea. I struggled. I got frustrated. I accomplished small steps and had light bulb moments. It was awesome. But it took time, and high school is not set up for this process. Both time and frustration. Growth comes from tension, from having the edges of our abilities and thoughts challenged.
Second, I needed help from co-workers. I might have spent more time in the network room than my office working out my problems. And when I needed help, the guys were there. Writing and editing code is a lot like old school grammar, you have to pay attention to all kinds of writing errors, from capitalization to unwanted string information. There was one situation that took a third set of eyes to see the problem, and it was a simple problem. They network guys were my teachers, but I presented them with what I had done and we worked from there. Learning is a relationship. Sharing, guiding, and helping work with and through what ever the lesson may be.
Third, writing code is still above my head, but I am getting better. And I am excited to see my ideas meet a real outcome. What gives our education meaning is that fusion of ideas and reality. That age old question, “Why do I need to know this?” At times lessons are steps to future goals and we have to build that foundation. But do we give students an avenue to take their learning to a level that affects the world around them? To show them the power behind what they are learning?
I enjoyed being a student, and can’t wait to share what I learned with my students.