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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #183

Welcome to the latest issue of my little newsletter. I hope that you are safe and well. Don't forget
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #183
By Tom Barrett • Issue #183 • View online
Welcome to the latest issue of my little newsletter. I hope that you are safe and well. Don’t forget to stay connected, just hit reply and we can chat.
This week: my dissatisfaction with the label STEM; David Foster Wallace reminds us we get to choose, and I admit we still have a landline phone connected.
Let’s get started.

STEM is an Adult Word
I think my general dissatisfaction with the prevalence of STEM as a catch-all label stems from (yes I just dropped that, I’m owning it) two distinct experiences.
  1. My background in teaching primary students.
  2. When I learned that someone attempted to claim they had invented the extended acronym STEAM.
Teaching a full curriculum everyday to 10 year olds, meant I had to continually grapple with the meaningful connections across many subjects. Thinking about the links between the curriculum subjects and designing coherent, well rounded, relevant sequences of learning, was normal.
We did it without an acronym.
I appreciate the emphasis on skills and jobs that part of the STEM agenda purportedly brings. But it just seems a made up thing. An awkward adult word that doesn’t seem to describe much in reality.
Thinking and learning tends to be much messier and invariably more fluid if those who participate allow it. After all we want our students to develop connections in all of their learning.
I enjoyed this article by Roz Bellamy as she explores her own experience of subjects, compared to how her own students respond and engage with what they know.
What My Students Taught Me About the Future — Matters Journal
The Work is in the Choosing
It may be the return to lockdown here in Melbourne that has meant the words of the author David Foster Wallace struck a chord this week. His graduation speech at Kenyon College in 2005 starts with:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
He goes on to explore the banality of everyday life, shopping, traffic and the natural default setting of self-centredness. He calls our attention to the work of consciously choosing how we experience our world.
…if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to foodshop…
But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars-compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things.
He basically described my trip to Woolies this week.
THIS IS WATER! by David Foster Wallace
The Barrett Batphone
My Dad insists on calling me on the landline. He literally is the only person in the world who calls. Without realising, he has setup his own Batphone. When it rings I know it is him.
I really enjoyed the article below, by Rebecca Nicholson, about the gradual creep of completely different social norms about phones and communication. I experience that shift when the Barrett Batphone Blares!
According to an Ofcom survey in 2018, we still use our mobile phones to call people but not for very long or in great depth.
80 percent of calls were shorter than five minutes, and the majority were under 90 seconds.
Rebecca goes on to explain her experiment of calling people instead of texting and the impact it had. She also highlights the work of psychologist Sherry Turkle and her recent book Reclaiming Conversation, which, admittedly, took me down a rabbit hole!
“Face-to-face conversation is the most human – and humanising – thing we do,” she wrote. “Fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.”
A good read and lots to reflect on especially due to our current lockdown laws and restrictions.
The Lost Art of Having a Chat: What Happened When I Stopped Texting and Started Talking
You made it to another Friday - well done. You know I appreciate your time and I hope you enjoyed the ideas I have pulled together this week.
Let me know what resonates.
I had better go, I think the Batphone is ringing!
In dialogue we trust.
~ Tom
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Tom Barrett

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