Monday, December 20, 2010

The Brian Gawlik Studio

Familiar faces... family, friends... old and new came together this afternoon to dedicate the Studio here in the Smith Center to Brian Gawlik... and the dedication on the memorial so reads:

dedicated to the memory of

Brian Gawlik

Brian came to Burr and Burton in 1999, a year after the Smith Center for Communications opened. Thanks to a generous gift from Barbara Riley and Gerald Levin, the lower level had been fitted out with a state-of-the art digital television studio complete with digital cameras, two editing bays and Avid editing stations. With his rich background in professional video editing, and news production, Brian brough just the right combination of talent, experience and personal skills to the task of setting up a vibrant communications program for students.

Under his expert, sometimes teasing, yet always gentle direction, his students became the writers, producers journalists and designers of their own news shows and films. He had high standards for their work in class and for how they conducted themselves out of class. He wanted them to have real-world experience and be professional in all they did. He was as likely to be seen instructing them in the finer points of tying a tie as checking light levels. Many of his students have gone on to work in the industry. None of them will forget him.

Brian also helped many local community organizations who came to him with requests for his experience in film and audio technology. He was unfailingly generous with his time. He is remembered by many in the community for his years as a volunteer with Race for the Cure cure committee responsible for the annual Summer event to benefit breast cancer research.

Born on March 25, 1961, in New York City, Brian moved with his family to Sunderland, Vermont in 1973. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Lyndon State College in 1983, he worked for the college's NewsLINC program. He went on to be a freelance editor and videographer for CNN and MSNBC and worked for Galaxy Broadcasting in Bondville before coming to Burr and Burton.

Brian Gawlik, teacher, mentor, and friend, died on December 8, 2009 after a long and courageous fight with cancer. He was 48 years old. He is honored and missed by the Burr and Burton community, but his legacy will live on in the students who benefit from the program he began.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sheets... and Math(ematics) in Education

We've plowed into our 'Education Revisited assignment in a couple Lab classes here. Alex Sheets, who used to teach here at BBA, sent on this great site called to chime in our discussion on mathematics.

Here's a great vid from the site. I love this sort of stuff!

Here's another:

Earlier this week in this 'Education Revisited' assignment we asked:
Is it necessary to teach mathematics today the way we usually do? 
We took on this speech on TED by Conrad Wolfram in class earlier this week. Is it necessary to focus so much on hand based computation when we teach math?

Wolfram talks of working with students on:

1. Posing the right questions.
2. Real world math formulation.
4. Math formulation. Real world verification.

Step 3. in Wolfram's sequence is 'Computation' and he poses that that's where illogically spend most of our time these days with students, why too many feel disconnected with math. I'd say he's right.

Keep the doodles in mind above doodles above and take a look at Stephen Wolfram's heady speech on 'Computing the Theory of Everything.'

Imagine project work where we use powerful tools like Mathematica, where we focus more effort on steps 1, 2, and 4, where we use the web and incorporate the principles of design into work in schools... instead of focusing so much on repetitive paper based computation. Exciting stuff.

We once thought venturing to the moon was beyond the scope of humanity. Standing on a corner and using something like a smartphone... was science fiction 25 years ago. Making movies with special effects like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, like Avatar or Inception used to be impossible. Might we use things like GapMinder to visualize very complex urban societal problems and conjure up solutions more quickly? Might we venture on to the fabled 'Star Trek Warp Drive' where we travel at the speed of light... or beyond the speed of light? It might sound crazy. Then again... it might not.

So... Business as usual... or a new frontier? Some great discussions brewing. Many thanks to Alex for passing on that site. AP