Earlier this year at the National Conference for Teachers of English in San Jose, Costa Rica, I could attend several workshops and plenary sessions regarding English learning in the 21st century.
The very first workshop was presented by Jair Felix with a hands-on approach:
The teachers’ challenge was to build the highest frame using uncooked spaghetti, string, tape and topping it with a marshmallow. Right from the start most teachers sat on the floor and started discussing ways and ideas on how to build the tallest structure. And the biggest challenge was resisting the urge to eat the marshmallow.
The marshmallow challenge was inspired by a TED talk by Peter Skillman. (You may watch the YouTube edition following this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p5sBzMtB3Q)
Teachers were then challenged on how they could help their students find inspiration.
What’s the problem? The marshmallow
What skills are important for this challenge?
Some of the conclusions:
- Children usually have the best performance in this task losing only to architects and engineers
- Their minds haven’t been screwed up by notions and the world.
- High stakes negatively impact the result.
- The art of prototyping – how to learn from mistakes?
- Learning takes place when there’s critical analysis of the input. You’re not expected to be perfect as a student. There’s always room for failure.
- Diversity in the classroom
Incentives + Skills = success ✔️
Incentives + Low skills # success ✖️
“Teaching is a contact sport because we’re always dealing with other people.”