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In the News: SXSWedu Session 2013 Highlight (3/13)

SXSWedu Session 2013 Highlight: Raising the Modern Geek

Presenters: Ed Walters, Alta Vista School; Rafe Needleman, Evernote; Stephan Turnipseed, Lego Education; Tomas Riley, Children’s Creativity Museum

“Geek” is a term that has evolved in the past 20 years. Instead of a mean-spirited put-down, it’s now a name proudly worn by the masses, especially thanks to the success of geek heroes like Mark Zuckerberg and SXSWedu keynoter Bill Gates. So what is a parent or teacher to do to help geeks of the 21st century reach their full potential? According to Stephan Turnipseed of Lego Education, these smart, yet often introverted individuals could benefit from lessons in three areas: collaboration, cooperation and communication.

Ed Walters

Ed Walters

Ed Walters, administrator of the Alta Vista School in San Francisco, Calif., said they have worked hard to cater the curriculum to the specific needs of their students, and one primary focus is communication skills. For example, students at Alta Vista are required to present a speech every 30 days.

“If you have a great thought, but you cannot communicate it to anyone else, then it’s lost,” Walters said.

Also, he said the basis for student learning at Alta Vista is the scientific method.

“Over the years, I’ve observed that children are natural scientists,” Walters said.

Alta Vista is more about encouraging students to explore interests and possible careers than telling them what they should be, according to Walters.

“We want to guide them so they can find the right path,” he said.

Stephan Turnipseed

Stephan Turnipseed

Turnipseed at Lego Education, which provides classroom-ready teaching tools, talked about the importance of creativity.

“The research tells us that children are born creative,” he said. “Somewhere along the way, we educate ourselves out of it. In fact, every one of us is equally creative if we are stimulated in the right way.”

He said students are encouraged to try, fail and grow through the challenges presented by the classroom tools.

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