… continue teaching school like it is 1890.

“Blinding ignorance does mislead us.

O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!”


Here it is from Kris, a 15 year-old former student, “How to Prevent Another Leonardo da Vinci“.

I think this post should be mandatory for every student teacher to read before they graduate.

I can hear the rebuttals, and yes there are some sweeping generalizations made… but rather than being defensive, I think it is our duty as educators to make things better… in EVERY classroom. We have the tools, and the understanding of pedagogy to make things better even though logistics, economics and circumstance can impede us. What we need are the exemplars, the role models, and the educational leaders to help us get where we need to be.

Today I went to a Learning Team Celebration where everyone on learning teams shared their successes with regards to action based research, done with colleagues, to explore areas of interest. Learning teams (as described here) promote dialogue among peers looking at areas such as the use of reading strategies, social responsibility programs, numeracy initiatives, and integrating technology to engage students in more meaningful ways. I have realized over the past few months that it isn’t technology per se that will change education. Instead, it is collaboration of teachers using best practice, and of students interacting with us and each other, that will truly and meaningfully change education. Technology, such as web2.0 tools, will help make the process easier, and speed the process up.

Consider this: I have had the honour of teaching with some truly amazing teachers, and yet I have spent little or no time observing them teach. I have not been able to tap into some ‘masterful’ resources just a few classroom doors away from me. Collaboration is key! Is it ironic or apropos that a post about da Vinci, a recluse that hid his work, is a post that highlights the value of collaborating?

Here are the 1st and 7th points of 10, offered by Kris in her How to Prevent Another Leonardo da Vinci post:

This is how we kill each trait that may yield another Da Vinci:1. Curiosita (from How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day)
What: Intense and insatiable curiosity; constantly learning due to a desire to ask and answer questions
The Murder:
In schools, for the most part, students learn only what the teacher decides they will learn. Student questions will often go unanswered if they lead away from the material (go off-topic), or if there are time constraints on what must be learned that leave no time for these questions in class.

7. Connessione (from “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci”)
What? Acceptance and appreciation for the interconnectedness of everything in life; interdisciplinary approaches and thinking
The Murder: Facts and concepts are taught in specific classes that are independent of each other, and students are moved from individual class to individual class without knowledge of how the two might be connected. Boundaries like that between art and science are rarely crossed or their connectedness even explained. Facts and ideas might be taught with no explanation of the links between them (ie, learning individual details and facts but not the big picture).

Read the whole post! If you are an educator, then I challenge you to do two things:

  1. Congratulate yourself! Recognize that your are a good teacher, and that you do things within your classroom that do not hinder your students as some of these generalizations do. See the positive. Noticing the good that we do, and acknowledging it as such, encourages us to continue and improve.
  2. Challenge yourself! Recognize that you have the opportunity to challenge students in new ways, and know that you too are learning… share your challenges with your peers, seek out opportunities to collaborate, with your colleague across the hall or your web friend across the world. WE will make education better than it ever has been!

Originally posted: May 30th, 2007

Reflection upon re-reading and re-posting:

Kris is not just a former student, she is a current teacher… my teacher. I would not have this blog up-and-running if it were not for her tech support. Also, her del.icio.us links are fodder for many of my posts.

Learning is a journey best shared, not led. We are nodes in each other’s learning networks…

Two weeks ago I bought a Wii Remote to create a Tim Wang Multi-touch Whiteboard. I’ve been talking with our computer teacher, Stan, about getting this going and then on Tuesday a student, Raj, caught wind of what we were planning to do. Wednesday morning Raj was downloading software from his phone to Stan’s computer, he also created two infra-red pens out of highlighters and push-button switches. Thursday morning before lunch I walked into Stan’s class to find Raj demonstrating the multi-touch whiteboard to his class. This morning he perfected an adjustable stand to hold the Wii Remote, (it was his second prototype).

I’m going to make a very harsh statement here and I’m going to stand behind it:


My experience with empowering students with leadership opportunities supports this point.

– – – – –

Here is Carolyn Foote’s comment on my original post. I love the line: “I think with enthusiasm, innovation, and collaboration that we can make a difference for students.” See Carolyn’s recent post: Empowering ourselves to empower our students.

Thank you for sharing that incredible post. I’ve already emailed it to several people at my own campus.

I also appreciate your response.

A group of us read Whole New Mind this year, and I think more than anything I’ve read in a long time, it really conveyed to me the “boat” that we too often miss as educators, in terms of supporting the creative thinking of our students.

And on a site visit that my campus made to schools in California, we visited High Tech High and saw the power of cross curricular connections. We’ve sent a team of our teachers there for a summer workshop on interdisciplinary connections, and I can’t wait until they get back (wish I was going too, but it’s during NECC).

I think with enthusiasm, innovation, and collaboration that we can make a difference for students.

And I agree that the web 2.0 tools can make that process so much easier. And we as educators, like this student, need support and encouragement, and the community that many of our interactions over the blogs or on sites like Ning offer, help us “keep the faith” as well.

Thanks so much for sharing this post!

Carolyn Foote on Friday, 08 June 2007, 00:24 CEST