Black Swan-Ugly Duckling School Software Found In Florida

13 09 2007

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

“Now in this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know, about what we don’t know. . .”

Here’s a Black Swan (Ugly Duckling?) learning story from Florida school districts and USF, so surprising that it’s now being studied by MIT and Harvard — a karaoke-style singing game kids like to play, that dramatically boosts reading skills as a side effect.

The worst young singers the company could find were testing the singing software’s effectiveness prior to release, when they began to show spectacular reading improvement, on average more than a full year’s grade level in one 9-week grading period

Researchers at the College of Education at USF call it off-the-charts revolutionary. Dr. Susan Homan was on my university radio news this morning explaining how the singing game improves vocal “fluency” and that when kids get into the game, they insist on reading through the upcoming lyrics several times first, wanting to improve their singing game score. It seems this exercises short-term memory (or RAM cache?) for what they are reading, which translates to improved general reading.

Final reason? It’s fun, and currently cool because of American Idol. So now “Tune Into Reading” is in use in school districts around my state.

Remember that recent documentary about dancing at school as real education, Mad Hot Ballroom?

That was still very structured though, school-prescribed and controlled. The radical unschooler in me prefers “Strictly Ballroom” in which the best pupil’s best lesson is learning NOT to perfectly follow the lesson plan and the standardized steps, much less the career mapped out by his elders.


And he learns that winning in terms of his own real performance, may mean LOSING the regulated, judged, scored competition set up and controlled by his teachers and parents.

Real reading isn’t necessarily school reading. For all our own schooling, we really don’t know much about dosing kids with specific treatments to make them learn specific skills, and apparently we do better at real education when we learn THAT first! 🙂




3 responses

13 09 2007

And this connects too:

“All kids have tremendous talents and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly. . .Creativity is as important in education these days as literacy and we should treat it with the same status . . .Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go! If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original . . .children are born artists (but) we’re educating people OUT of their creative capacities.”

Sir Ken Robinson speaks with a charming accent and some very funny lines — pictures of God, Shakespeare as a child, university professors, musical theatre choreographers as learning-disabled (Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer!”) — adding up to a serious message about how School stigmatizes creative thought and academically standardizes it, and thereby screws up the whole world.
This video seems a better lesson in real creativity than whatever School is teaching and testing as “arts education.”

13 09 2007
Nance Confer

So now “Tune Into Reading” is in use in school districts around my state.


And that should pretty much guarantee the death of any enjoyment from this game.

FCAT is deadly.


13 09 2007

How about t-shirts that say, “FCAT is Deadly — it kills play!”

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