Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 6: Civic Engagement  
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Workshop 6

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Teacher Perspectives
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Teacher Perspectives: Constructivism

Bill Mittlefehldt: Educational psychology helps you understand your learner. Unless teachers understand the needs of their learners—what’s going on in their brain and their motivational system and their priorities—you will totally miss the mark. We say, “What do you care about?” That hopefully triggers something lower down in the brain, called the midbrain. This is Paul MacLean’s theory of the triune brain—that you tap into what motivates them and what they care about. If they show us anything, then it’s our responsibility to engage them, to construct something bigger and more powerful from that. That’s where our magic and our sorcery is.

The students working on their presentations are actually trying to demonstrate they understand part of the solution. That is much more than service. That’s service that’s linked to strong character--[students] are assuming responsibility for improving their civic fabric. That is exactly what today’s kids need. Because of the age group [and] the speeding of cultural change, a lot of old-timers are frightened by today’s kids. There’s a separation, which is a potential hazard to their character development, unless more schools and communities can develop the vehicles for tying character to the community. So we have the screaming needs of the kids’ character on this side, and through service we link them up to community problems. What’s nice is, if you do a good job, you get great fabric.


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