Jordan Shapiro; Global Education and Skill Forum

I watched an engaging talk by Jordan Shapiro that discusses game-based learning. What he is really talking about is powerful learning. He’s a humanities teacher, and states; “I honestly hope that my students learn nothing….No-thing. No things….Education is about ideas…I don’t teach things.”

It reminds me of something that I always put at the top of my History 12 course outline:

“Nothing capable of being memorized is history” R. G. Collingwood

This often is very confusing for my students, as they have a long career of memorizing things, but my goal is what Jordan Shapiro outlines. What we want in education is for students to engage with new perspectives, to be creative thinkers, to be able to solve complex problems, and engage in metacognition and self-assessment. These are the types of high-leverage skills that will allow them to tackle issues in any discipline and in life itself.

I often hear people say, I remember nothing from high school. I tackle that one head-on in my classes, too. I tell my students that they will likely forget a lot of the discreet facts they do indeed have to know for a time in my class: dates, names, events. What I want them to remember, however, is that they grappled with big ideas that are essential to understanding history, their own lives, and the future.

  • What are the impacts of technology on society?
  • What does it mean to be human?
  • How does power imbalance lead to the violation of human rights?
  • How does our world view shape our actions? How does my world view shape my actions?

I also want them to remember the broad strokes of history, to build up a time line that they will continue to refine as they engage in a life of learning. We are becoming educated, not filling in pieces of paper.

It is a beautiful talk and even if you don’t watch the entire 30 minutes, you won’t regret the philosophical underpinnings he outlines at the beginning. I especially love the analogy he uses about not being a big pitcher of knowledge giving out small sips of “expert knowledge”.


Follow him on twitter: @jordosh

Also, here is one of the links he discusses right at the end of the talk; Graphite

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