So Barbara has anotheranother great post up, writing about how her students are changing in their expectations and needs from their time in college. They are pushing against the traditional structures, asking to mix the classroom experience with online community and off campus travel, capturing all of it in their Weblogs with the voices of teachers and mentors and loved ones mixed in. I love that image…seriously love it…the reflective, interactive chronicling of learning. The getting it down, capturing the experience if for no other reason than to acknowledge it, and to help it take root. That is one of the reasons I maintain this space, to make the learning stick in my brain by articulating it in writing. It’s one thing to nod your head as you read or listen, but it’s another entirely to write it, especially for an audience.
My natural inclination is to try to envision that happening with they younger kids in my world. The kids like Barbara’s 15-year old daughter who has “propelled herself through her high school curriculum so fast…because it has been excruciatingly mind-numbing.” I’m not sure high school kids could ever have enough license to explore the meaning of their learning in the ways Barbara’s students do. But I wonder if the making of meaning that blogging their education might require would transform the experience for them, and, in the process, give educators a heck of a lot more insight as to what our students are learning. Help us make it less mind-numbing.
Barbara’s students want more:
They want what goes on in the classroom to have some bearing on their lives as well as enabling them to develop skills of critical inquiry.
What a concept. I would bet that high school students want that same thing. The question is how long will it take us to see the growing irrelevance of the traditional system of education and seriously rethink what we do in the classroom to make learning more meaningful to our students. Right now, it’s feeling like this mountain is pretty darn high…
Jack Macleod says
You are so right Will about the growing irrelevance of the traditional education system. I spend a significant amount of time in meetings discussing how we’re going to modify a course so that a particular student will be successful. At this point in the year, many of these students are not succeeding because they aren’t here. Why aren’t they here? School isn’t relevant or worthwhile to them. Why not? These are the students who used to drop out, get kicked out, whatever by the end of grade nine. The high school system was never designed for them. (BTW, I’m not suggesting the high school system is well designed for anybody, but our “better” students have the “game of school” figured out and do okay, at least by whatever standardized assessment we want to use.)
The only quibble I have with your comment is when you say, “… seriously rethink what we do in the classroom…” Why do we need to stay in the classroom? I think the growing irrelevance of the school system is mostly the artificial structure of classrooms that we have created over the years. To make learning relevant to our students, we need to be thinking of knocking the classroom walls down and moving away from classes that meet one block a day or whatever. To achieve true change and reach students we need to radically change the whole system.
Will R. says
I agree wholeheartedly. The system is what’s broken. But it’s going to take many, many, many, many years for the system to change. What can change, as we’re seeing, are teachers taking matters into their own hands in their own classrooms. Teachers are going to have to be subversive in public ways by changing their curricula right now. If we wait for the system, I really think schools as we know them are going to be toast.