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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Emergence of Transcence: Unhook the Stars #msief



Sometimes meaning can transcend language barriers.  Take this, for example. As I prepare to attend the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in Cape Town, South Africa as my first true event as a "member of the press" I have been following our hashtag for the event #msief  - this tweet came across the tag:

"RT @cafepedagogique: Innovative Teachers already present in the Café Pédagogique blog .. In French http://tinyurl.com/2vsd4ay #msief"

Curious, I went to the post aptly titled, Décrocher les étoiles , translated as "Unhook the Stars" and saw French and Arabic coexisting on the same post.  Curious, I started translating.

Now, I know that Google Translate is SO FAR FROM PERFECT and there are thousands of you out there who will translate this for me in a much more accurate way, but in this case, the translation that came through Google translate had a certain halting poetic beauty that caused me to stop and reflect:

A Pedagogical Innovation Lexicon Emerging?


The original French beginning this post:
"Kamal Essouafi, enseignant scientifique pour des enfants de 12 à 14 ans, à Foum Ejamaa, Bzou, Azilal au Maroc a répondu à mes questions par mail interposé.  Il l’a fait en arabe, nous rappelant au passage que l’univers de la francophonie s’avère multilingue. A Cape Town, nous rencontrerons, des enseignants anglophones, hispanophones, russophones, dont les langues natales composent la mosaïque de la richesse linguistique mondiale. Nous emprunterons alors notre anglais hésitant pour nous parler et retraduire approximativement dans notre langage quotidien les teneurs d’une rencontre que l’on imaginera plus dense que ce que l’on en percevra. Mais après tout, se comprendre entre les mots, broder des ponctuations pour combler les points d’incompréhension, nous permet de construire un nouveau vocabulaire où l’innovation pédagogique fait office de lexique.
L’interview de Kamal Essouafi en arabe et en français nous offre un premier aperçu de ces rencontres en mode multiculturel."

Became this


"Kamal Essouafi, science teacher for children aged 12 to 14 years, Foum Ejamaa, BZOU, Azilal in Morocco has answered my questions by mail interposed. He did it in Arabic, reminding us in passing that the world of Francophonie is multilingual. In Cape Town we meet, the English teachers, Hispanic, Russian speakers, whose native languages make up the mosaic of the world's linguistic richness. We will take our time to talk about halting English and translated back into our everyday language about the contents of a meeting that is denser than imagine what we perceive. But after all, understanding between words, punctuation embroidery to fill the points of misunderstanding, we can build a new vocabulary which serves as a pedagogical innovation lexicon.
The interview with Kamal Essouafi in Arabic and French offers a first glimpse of these meetings multicultural mode."

Let me repeat something that lured me in:  

"we can build a new vocabulary which serves as a pedagogical innovation lexicon."



ce fabuleux univers

Hmmm.  Then, later down a translated question and answer that again inhaled my thought processes about just what a session with more than 60 countries might mean to both me and the participants:


"Comment vous en est venue l’idée ?

J’ai constaté que les élèves rencontrent  beaucoup de difficultés quand on parle de l’astronomie. Un simple  livre ne suffit pas pour  guider nos élèves afin de mieux  comprendre et saisir les secrets  de ce fabuleux univers."


Google Translate says





How do you get the idea?
I found that students encounter many difficulties when it comes to astronomy. A single book is not enough to guide our students to better understand and learn the secrets of this amazing universe.

A single book is not enough?

Really?  A teacher in Morocco writing in Arabic to a French blogger finds the same conclusion as  a United States teacher in the remote town of Camilla that "a single book is not enough."  Tens of thousands of you are also drawing the same conclusion and grappling with this question of: "if this is the case, so what do we do now?"
The Daily Green


Isn't that one of the premises of a modern education. Despite what we "say" that we can have a "textbook" for each class that completely embodies all a student should know about a particular topic in a particular year?


So, what does this teacher do? It seems that the teacher has a model of the solar system that the students use. In the last item which I translated from arabic to English.


Original Arabic:


بواسطة ما يوفره الدليل من إمكانات، سيتمكن التلميذ من الاقتراب بشكل كبير من بعض الظواهر ،التي كانت مبهمة عنده و منها.
شكل الكرة الأرضية .
دوران الأرض حول نفسها .     
الحركة الظاهرية للشمس.
أن أنجز نموذجا لاتبين حركة الأرض حول نفسها .
منحى دوران الأرض جول الشمس .    
السنة البسيطة و السنة الكبيسة .
أن أنجز نموذجا أتبين به دوران الأرض حول الشمس .
أطوار القمر .
ظاهرتي الكسوف و الخسوف و احدد أسبابهما .
أن أتبين سبب اختلاف أوجه القمر .
النظام الشمسي .
أن أميز النجم عن الكوكب
أن استثمر تعلماتي في وضعيات جديدة .






English version:


"By the evidence provided by the potential, the student will be able to approach greatly from some phenomena, which were vague and he has them.
The form of the globe.
The earth's rotation around itself.
Virtual movement of the sun.
That the completed model to notice the movement of the earth around itself.
Direction of rotation of the Earth Jules sun.
Year simple and leap year.
I determine that the model was completed by the earth's rotation around the sun.
Phases of the moon.
Phenomena of the eclipse and lunar eclipses and I set their causes.
I determine that the cause of the different phases of the Moon.
The solar system.
Tell the star on the planet
Talmati that invested in new positions."

Yes, you can see that the accuracy of Arabic to English isn't so great, however, let me ask you this?



How many of you are able to highlight the Arabic text on the original blog post and paste into Google Translate?  

Do you know why it is so difficult?  

Although you may know this in mind, in practice you may not realize that when highlighting Arabic that you have to highlight from the right of the first sentence and NOT the left! Go on, try it!

I have to admit that even highlighting the text to turn it into a block quote on this blog was tough for me.

So, here, Kamal in Morocco is talking to Monique in France which is tweeted out by Marsattac in France to a hashtag followed by Vicki in Camilla where she learns and relearns the nuances of translating arabic. A simple thing but how many people would give up and not translate? Could something as simple as this cause communication barriers to those who use online translation services?


Just going to this conference has opened up many questions in practice in my hometown.


Do I know anyone going?
Why yes, I do. I've been following the twitter hashtag since it came across my inbox this week and have now "met" twenty people who will be there in fact, I may go on a tour with a group of teachers traveling from the US on Saturday morning.  Yes, I met them on Twitter.


Why are you going?
I'm going as a member of the press.


Why are you considered a "member of the press" don't they know you're just a teacher in a small town?
And this, my friends presents the most interesting answer. In shock as I review my first press kit this morning - I realize that although I am inherently distinct and different from mainstream media in almost every way -- from the occasional typos to the personal voice I interject -- but somehow this world now considers someone like me a "member of the press."


Become Part of the Story


The interesting thing is that this type of "press" - the blogger is a totally different "animal" so to speak as we are organic in many ways. The moment I started tweeting about going, I started getting dm's and emails from my friends who have been or are going - the moment. I don't have to go to the conference to have "sources" and "interviews" lined up. It is happening already.

Also, I am inviting my friends who have attended this Worldwide Innovation Forum in the past to email me at vicki at coolcatteacher dot com - put in the subject #wwief if you will so I can pull you out of the hundreds of emails I get every day. I'd like to know when you went, what you learned, your thoughts on the process, and about your project. You're part of this story.  Give me the story.


Unhook the Stars
Back to this lovely discussion about Kamal's "organic" experience of arranging planets and stars and watching them interact.


We have become a society that is empowered to learn with kinesthetic, practical, hands on experiences.  

  • Like Kamal's invention.   
  • Like the fact that I was reminded about copying Arabic from right to left.  
  • Like the realization that as I've been teaching that bloggers who have a following have become considered part of the media of the world.   
  • Like the fact that I'm asking you to give me your thoughts on the conference and some of you reading will respond via twitter and email. 


Immersive teaching is important and immersive experience is transcendent.

Sharing experience to create vicarious learning experiences is important.


Sell Out?
Is going to a conference as a member of "the press" a "sell out" as I asked myself when invited to attend 
at the expense of Microsoft? (Who is just paying my travel expenses.) 


I tell you this - I sold out a long time a go and it wasn't to a company but rather to a dream. It is to the fact that there are many people out there who need encouragement. That we need to use technology to improve our world and what better way to do that than to do it in the classroom? That we need to encourage one another and tell the story of the real teacher.  

Not the press release packaged - glossed over experience that makes it to most newspapers, but rather the real experience of the teacher who has good days and bad days and sometimes struggles with staying in the classroom.


I am sold out to a dream of who I feel called to be.  And who I feel called to be has a job of participating in experiences such as this one to funnel learning, perspective, best practices, and encouragement to those of you who honor me with your presence and attention. To help us make sense of how we can well-use this technology arsenal that has the power for great harm and great good.  To unhook the stars that lie within these processors, these teachers, and these students as we do what we can do to improve things from the "bottom" up.

To build this lexicon of learning pedagogy that transcends language and barriers. 

We no longer need our "official organizations" to build bridges but teachers are connecting directly - classroom to classroom and it will impact the classroom and our society in ways that are going to be another jolt to our world's psyche. 


A real classroom teacher can go to a conference about teachers to let other teachers know what she thinks about what is happening. This needs to happen more often. Teacher to teacher.


Thank you for journeying with me. Thank you for reading my blog, for ultimately your readership is the wind that is propelling me to South Africa and beyond.  I look forward to streaming, beaming, and sharing with you in as many ways as possible over the next week.


When you see me post sometime Tuesday, I'll be a whole ocean and continent away from Camilla, Georgia. 

You've come a long way, baby and many miles more to go before you sleep.



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