Pat Aroune who is a high school teacher in upstate New York and a new edblogger (after 16 years in the business) sent along a link to some student Weblogs from his summer class on economics and a couple of them, Greg’s Public Views and Economics According to Andi struck me because of some of the work there and their reflections about blogging. Pat’s idea was to have them use their blogs to study economics in the context of whatever their passions were, and the results are pretty telling. Greg commented
I’ve learned in a way that tailors to my interests, what with using the internet to its fullest extent and writing about things that I am interested in. I would write about things like snowboarding, soccer, filmaking, eating, sleeping… whatever I wished, as long as I related it to economics. After doing this for a while, I started to realize that I was learning much faster than I would have normally by reading a boring (sorry, they almost always are) textbook. Not only could I write about things that I like and post them, but others could view those posts, as could I theirs, and consequently learn from their experiences and interests as well.
I think about this all the time in terms of my own children, who are learning to do all sorts of things in the context of what they are passionate about be it Power Rangers or horseback riding. And I’m really trying to nurture their entry into a world where they can learn together with other kids who are equally passionate about those topics (well, maybe not Power Rangers…)
Andi states it a bit differently but clearly makes the point:
To be quiet honest, I’ve become so accustomed to the “old skool” way of learning through the textbook and lectures, taking tests, and writing essays, that it’s just how I learn the easiest. It’s all I’ve known. How is this blogging thing gonna really help me? How am I even gonna know what to do? What does my teacher expect from me and how will I be able to meet those expectations? That was the main question right there. I’ve found that I learn in a way that requires a lot of structure. Someone tells me what to do and how they want it done, and like the mindless little nerd-monkey that I am, I do it. But by using this blog, I’ve been exposed to a new way of thinking and learning which has really been of benefit to myself. I’ve learned to think outside of the box and learn how I want to learn. You need to read her entire post about the experience…some very thoughtful and challenging reflections.
So here is a “new” bloggy teacher kicking the tires by allowing students to use blogs to write about things they are interested in and still draw it back in to the subject at hand. It’s not perfect…as the kids say, more commenting could have helped. But I really admire the initiative to change and experiment and reflect. And to make me think…