Folding big ideas into little origami

I read a blog post by Grant Wiggins today that got me thinking. When I first read the post, I thought it was extremely long-winded, but even still the message resonated with me, and I’ve been mulling it over ever since.

The gist of his piece is that too much is done in schools without asking the hard questions (or acting on them even if we are asking them).

  • Why are we teaching what we are teaching?
  • Why are we using the methods we are using?
  • Are they the best way?
  • Could they be better?
  • What are my assumptions about my teaching? About my students?
  • What are the unintended consequences of my actions?

Lately I’ve seen this topic repeatedly in blog posts and on Twitter. With its popularity, it seems apropos to question it:

Why are teachers using so many foldables as part of their instruction?

What are they adding to the students’ learning? Do the students understand why they are using these tools? Do they even realize they are tools? What are the unintended consequences of folding big ideas into so many different shapes of origami?

I’m not going to try to answer the question myself, at least not today. And by asking, don’t think I’m against them. I just want to pose the question because I think it’s worth asking. I’m sure folded things have been used in classrooms for decades, but they have seen a spike in popularity in recent years. Beyond being incredibly clever in and of themselves, what good are they doing for student learning? What harm?

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