There’s a new challenge going around – watch a short video and write a bog post tying what you have seen into something about education. So Whitney sent me this one about the Landfill Harmonic, who make musical instruments out of landfill:

The world sends us garbage, we send back music

Favio Chavez (Director)

What do you see when you look at a landfill site? A representation of the gluttony and wastefulness of the modern Western world? A blot on the landscape that obscures the beauty of nature? Probably something like that. But these folk saw potential. Instead of focussing on all of the negative aspects of what they were given, they looked carefully within it for parts that could be used. Maybe these needed a bit of a polish, maybe the results were never going to be perfect, but the instruments that resulted play sweet music. These instruments do not conform to the usual standards for orchestral instruments, but they function just as well as those made from traditional materials.

It’s all a matter of attitude, really. We are often told that modern students are lazy and unmotivated – that they can’t be bothered to engage with hard subjects, that they expect to be spoon fed an education. And I expect that if that is what you are looking for, then that is what you will see. And if lectures are boring and assessments are ill thought out, then students may well not bother to engage. It can be hard, when faced with huge class sizes, not to see the potential of individual students.

But if you take the time to look a bit more closely then you will see that beneath the surface there are keen students wanting to take an interest in their education. You might have to rethink how this is going to work, though – developing authentic assessment for large class sizes can be a challenge, but it can be done.  If you are willing to give students a say in how that learning is going to happen, and look at using co-operative learning designs such as the Jigsaw Classroom, and peer reviewing models such as Adaptive Comparative Judgement then you might be surprised by the results. It won’t take you any less time to teach by using this methods, but both you and your students will have a much more rewarding time.

I’m not linking to another video here, but a picture. #blimage is more my thing than #blideo

flickr photo by WarmSleepy http://flickr.com/photos/timothykrause/5885747179 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by WarmSleepy http://flickr.com/photos/timothykrause/5885747179 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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5 Responses to WYSIWYG

  1. scottx5 says:

    Used to love the dump (“landfill” makes it sound like a work of nature or geologic when in fact it’s a human artifact of things we thought, with our small imaginations, were used-up).

  2. scottx5 says:

    Wrote articles for the county recycling department and was ordered never to use the word “dump” as it sounded so disorderly and beyond design. Oddly, my boss was a practicing Zen Buddhist who saw order in everything but unlike urban designer Jane Jacobs, my boss couldn’t internalize an appreciation of the lack of control. Comes from sitting cross legged for hours contemplating your arse hole. Or not.

  3. scottx5 says:

    Orderliness gives us a sense of control. We don’t have to face how wasteful consumer society is because after we’ve used our “appropriate share” we put everything back into order at the landfill. We used to take the kids down to the dump for hunting and gathering expeditions and come back with some real treasures like you say. It was a small one and one time we went in the rain. On rainy days the place always seemed to be burning and we hid behind the truck to watch spray paint and other pressurized cans rocket out of the pile, into the air and off the side of the truck with their hideous payloads and stringers of dump stew. Right in the middle was a chest freezer and as we watched a local kid emerged from the freezer and the smoke with a flashlight in his mouth and a Playboy magazine on his hand. This where he read in his free time and years later my older daughter suggested we should have filmed it as the world’s first rock video.

    I wonder if there’s dump in Second Life?

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