Looking back at my teaching experience with Helen, and her learning experience with us, I experience a lot of “I wish I had” moments. I wish I had known that Helen was, at that moment in time, (according to Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn) of Disrupting Class: Student-Centric Education Is the Future, a nonconsumer of the type of education that we had been offering her. I wish I had known that in today’s constantly evolving, and technological world, it’s not the knowledge that we have that is important, but the skills to access knowledge that we don’t have that is more important.
I wish I had been willing to practice what I knew in theory; that learning not only takes place inside a person, through individual activities, but through the networks of information that we build with others (connectivism).
All these “I wish I had” moments have made me realize how I can improve my teaching, if not with Helen, who is now in 6th grade, for sure with the next student who is a nonconsumer of the current mode of education. Please can you tell me where I can buy this picture (I wish I could turn back the clock, i’d find you sooner and love you longer).


She was very amazed by any device that was connected to computers, and would question us at length on how some writing she had seen on the computer screen could be printed on a machine which was not even connected to a computer by wires. Helen’s reluctance to work suddenly evaporated when she was allowed to work on a computer; she would excitedly write sentences and even compose short letters on the class computer, whereas she has had (in the past) either flatly refused to write sentences, or taken half an hour to compose a simple sentence. I wish I had known then that Helen would have been motivated to learn, and would have learned better and faster had she been allowed to use the computer for most of her learning, as opposed to the computer being an occasional accompaniment. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge.” I wish I had used this knowledge (which seems very common sense) to harness Helen’s passion for everything Ethiopian and Indian.
I know for sure studying art was not applauded by the people in my society (although I had already decided by the time I was five years old) who valued guaranteed income first than passion. I wish, instead of asking her to use her notebook and pencil to write for most of the time, and only allowing her type on the computer when she was ready to publish, I had used the computer as the main means of learning.


I wish I had helped her connect with people (on websites and blogs on the internet) who would have helped her pursue her interests (geek out) and expand her knowledge in an independent and interesting manner. Whereas she had been very compliant and eager to try new things at the beginning of the school year, within two months she had become very reluctant to try anything that was not a game. I think you get the picture: educating Helen had become very difficult, not only for us, her EAL teachers, but for her classroom teachers and her parents as well.
We didn’t know how to motivate Helen, nor how to make her see how far she had already come and how far she could go, if only she tried a little.



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