TED: This Idea IS Worth Sharing

Ramsey Musallam blew my mind away in his “3 rules to spark learning” talk featured on TED.com!

Ramsey Musallam on TED Talks delivering his speech "3 Rules to Spark Learning"

Ramsey Musallam on TED Talks delivering his speech “3 Rules to Spark Learning”

I felt like I was listening to myself speak. It was completely validating to listen to his ideas and to realize I’ve already thought them in my own way. At first it might seem that Ramsey is against the use of technology in the classroom when he says, “questions and curiosity are magnets that draw us towards our teachers, and they transcend all technology or buzz words in education,” but if you reread that sentence, I hope you see that he’s speaking on a higher plane than just should we or shouldn’t we? He immediately paints a better picture of this higher plane saying, “if we put technologies before student inquiry, we can be robbing ourselves of our greatest tool as teachers, our students’ questions.” This completely resonated with me.

He goes on to give his three rules for sparking student learning, as the title of th

e talk suggests he would.

Rule #1 is Curiosity Comes First.
Rule #2 is Embrace the Mess.
Rule #3 is Practice Reflection.

I will probably fail to adequately express the genius behind these rules, but I’m going to attempt it. Ramsey argues that the real power of learning lies in our natural tendency to be curious. Curiosity is the what really sparks learning, and we as teachers witness it in our students’ questions. Therefore, we must encourage questions as educators by “hav[ing] the guts to confuse our students, perplex them,” and then, use their questions as the guide for the learning in our classrooms, not a “scripted curriculum.” When we do this, there will be a mess. Learning is messy. It doesn’t fall into the neat, simple scripted curriculum. It takes twists and turns that we never expected it to and never in a neat and orderly fashion. We have to wholeheartedly welcome the path our students take toward learning the content we want them to learn, and more importantly, they want to learn. Finally, we have to think. We have to sit back and enjoy the wonders of our learning. We have to meditate and revise on what we’ve done in order to truly learn from it. These rules, as Ramsey brings out, are lacking from our educational system.

I unreservedly believe that following these rules contributes to my success as a student. I love the pursuit of knowledge, and I will follow my curiosity (interest) anywhere it takes me. As a perfectionist, the second rule is harder for me to follow, but I do appreciate it. The third rule is where I excel. I am an avid proponent for true, honest, open, unfiltered, and meaningful reflection. Without it, I wouldn’t learn anything. It also continues the cycle because the more I reflect on an idea, the more I want to investigate it.

Now, I can imagine there are people out there who wouldn’t share my love for Ramsey Musallam’s “3 rules to spark learning.” They might say that Ramsey is ultimately saying that technology doesn’t have an important role in the classroom, but is he? I would argue that he’s saying something quite different. “For example,” he’s saying, “flipping a boring lecture from the classroom to the screen of a mobile device might save instructional time, but if it is the focus of our students’ experience, it’s the same dehumanizing chatter just wrapped up in fancy clothing.” In other words, it’s the role we give technology that determines the value it has in our classroom. With that and the three rules in mind, how would you use technology effectively in your classroom?

Check it out for yourself!

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