All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten
by Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
This is one of my favourite poems. Share everything. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. As I have been reading blogs and watching videos about open education this past week, what has really struck me is how the whole idea of being open relies on sharing, including content, thoughts and resources. To actively be a part of open education, I need to be willing to share, and accept others ideas in return. I need to give credit where credit is due. And learning, being aware of wonder, is best done with a friend.When I first began teaching, I greatly appreciated when my mentors offered free use of their materials and discussed teaching ideas with me. They definitely didn’t get anything in return from me as I was just starting out. When I began my first teaching job, I was in a small school where I was often the only science teacher. I longed to discuss ideas with peers, but did not know how to make connections outside the school. When I became an instructor in Adult Basic Education at VIU, I found it difficult to part with my material. I caught myself thinking “But I worked so hard on that. It took so long to make”. I had to push myself to let go of my possessiveness. I now embrace the openness of ABE faculty, in particular the science instructors, who willingly share resources and are happy to discuss new strategies for teaching. I also greatly appreciate resources that are openly shared on the Web. When I surf the net for ideas for a lesson I rarely find exactly what I am looking for, but I find little nuggets of inspiration that help me stitch together a complete plan. Without others openly sharing, this would not be possible. Steven Johnson, in this short video, states that innovation comes from this sharing and connectivity, where “chance favours the connected mind”.
As I work towards increasing the online component of my face-to-face classes, I am beginning to see how important it is for my students to have access to open education. Most recently it was when a student needed a textbook and could not afford to buy our required text right away. I was able to find an Open Textbook that covered the same material.I am not the ‘fountain of knowledge’ that perhaps teachers were once thought to be. Information is fairly easy to obtain. My job is to help students learn how to learn, and be able to access and use information outside the walls of the classroom. As David Wiley points out in his “Keynote on Open Education”, a key component of openness is connecting, and you can’t connect to something if you don’t have access to it. This has made me reconsider containing my entire online piece of my courses within VIU’s Desire2Learn platform, as students will not have access to any material within the course once the course is completed and then closed. If I am expecting my students to create content rather than consume content, I should allow for that content to be accessible to them for the long term. Learning is a life-long journey, and I wish to encourage my students to “hold hands and stick together” in the learning communities they have created, moving from learning in isolation to being connected and openly sharing information.