Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Metametacognition - a new art

I came in second in a disco contest hosted by the young adult librarians of the PA Library System in 1979.   First prize was a gift certificate.  Second prize was a candle that had been poured into a dug out mold in the sand at the shore.  

 Yup, I was big into disco.  I still own the soundtrack (on vinyl) to Saturday Night Fever, along with a host of other albums featuring the Bee Gees and Donna Summer.  And while I never figured out who left the cake out in the rain, or why someone would lose the recipe to such a valuable delicacy, disco continues to be part of my life.

No, not because I'm twirling around my kitchen, or randomly pointing to the ceiling and the floor.   It's more the metaphorical disco that haunts me today.  That, and an occasional spin of those songs on my ipod.


Today is my first day as a solo blogger.  Te@chthought gave me no prompt, and I'm dancing alone.  Guess what?  I'm still reflecting -- as much as that mirrored ball on the ceiling at the disco.

Here's what I thought about as I went to sleep last night:  The last thirty days have been an intense period of metacognitive study.  Seriously -- metacognition  by definition -- is thinking about thinking, right?  So the last thirty days have been metametacognitive for me.  I've spent thirty days reflecting on thinking about thinking.  Perhaps I should shorten this and go with M2cognitive as my new acronym.  It will be famous.  (But only if you start to use it for me!)

On Monday, I was once again reminded that teachers should never dismiss opportunities for their students.  Each semester, I advertise six Secondary Enrichment Experience seminars that are offered through our local Intermediate Unit.  Janice, the coordinator, works diligently to find a variety of hands on experiences for the senior high gifted kids in the county to explore.  They range from lectures and art opportunities, to watching and interacting with engineers and surgeons.  I think you get the idea.  Monday's topic was "Explore the Art of Swiss Watchmaking."

Seriously?  When was the last time you wore a watch?  I have a clock on my wall, a clock in my classroom, a clock on my phone, and the new high school even has clocks in the hallways.  Watches are SOOO 20th century.  I couldn't imagine that there would be much interest in this, but I put the description in my googledocs survey, and almost 15 kids were interested.  One was so passionate, that he appeared in my doorway, BEGGING to be able to attend.  We were offered three spots in the seminar, two kids returned permission slips, and one backed out at the last minute because of an obligation to a group presentation.  So Alex went alone.

I had the joy of picking Alex up after the seminar at the site.  I sat in the van and watched as the busload of students from around the county exited the building.  I scanned the group, and noticed that there were quite a few were leaving after first stopping to say goodbye, or interact with Alex.  This didn't surprise me, as Alex is quite a nice guy, who everybody loves pretty quickly.  Alex stopped -- to take pictures of the OUTSIDE of the building.  Hmmm. Curious.  Then he got in the van, and went insane.

Yes, insane is the only word to describe the excitement this kid had for the last five hours he had spent learning about the fine art of watchmaking.  I have never seen anyone so passionate.  He talked about the interconnectedness of engineering and art, both passions of his, and how watchmaking touched his very heart and soul.  Oh, and wait.  

HE MADE THIS WATCH.  

Seriously.  He made a watch.  

Alex is a senior.  It is entirely possible that he is on his way to a six figure job with Rolex. 
And I almost decided for him that a day watching watchmakers wasn't relevant.

Should I keep reflecting?  You bet.  Because the next time the SEE Seminar list comes out, I will remember that day in September when I fought back the tears as a high school senior discovered his passion.  

Thirty days may be over.  The disco ball mirrors are still reflecting and shining in all corners of my mind.