Learning In Action Through Interaction: An Innovation Week Presentation
The following is an excerpt from a presentation I gave for colleagues and fellow educators regarding the role of innovation in education. The conference took place at Jumeriah Hotel, Etihad Towers on November 23, 2016.
Truth be told, my background is in English Language and Literature. So forgive me if I ramble or stray off course. But given my background, I’ve always believed that life’s lessons can be best learned in Literature. Take, for instance, one of my childhood heroes, Winnie the Pooh who said, “You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” Today, as a teacher going on nearly a decade of practice, I still fall back on these words as a humble reminder; a reminder to foster a learning environment in which ‘community’ is the cornerstone to success. A space in which the teacher acts as guide on the side rather than sage on the stage. A place where students learn to try, learn to listen, learn to trust, and more than all else, learn to lean on each other.
Growing up, the world of words was my creative space. My outlet to explore the capacities and the pitfalls of language. Now, as a published poet, I try to turn language inside out; to develop a cadence or string of sounds built on dissonance. The idea being: there’s illogical thought behind every logical idea. For as much as we try to push forward, there’s always something pushing back.
This is where Science comes into play. I’ve learned to take my love of language and translate it into the illogical art of Science. And what is the art of Science if not the art of trying and faltering. And of course, trying again.
I refuse to speak of ‘failing.’ To me, there really is no such thing as ‘failing.’ There’s ambiguity, sure. There’s the unforeseen. There’s the flicker and the plume of smoke. There’s always more left undone. Maybe there’s even a tinge of regret. But there is no failing. Not in my classroom anyways.
The investigative nature of engineering and design lends itself to the motto: There are no wrong answers, only answers. Much like the phrase, “There are no universal truths, only corroborated lies." Significantly, design-based inquiry is a method of stumbling forward and re-tracing our steps in the sand; it is one of cobbling together wrongs to make an ultimate right.
To close, I would like to reiterate the importance of ‘process’ over ‘product.’ Did we create a masterwork of engineering design? No. Nor were students intended to. Instead, students learned in action through interaction.
To refer back to my childhood hero, Winnie the Pooh: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” So is true for scientific excursions into unknown spaces. We work together. We may not know the path well. We may stumble. We may get lost - but we overcome.
Thank you for your time. And thank you for bearing with me. In fairness, I did give fair warning: I tend to veer off-track. Thank you again. It’s been a privilege.
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