Yesterday, I noted that much of what we think and do around learning in schools defies common sense.
Today, I’m reminded that the kids know it too.
In Muscatine, Iowa, over 700 students are participating in a two-week summer program called College for Kids. They’re building things with Legos, messing around with oobleck goo, and using all sorts of tech to make robotic cars, and much more.
The program coordinators describe the need:
Students get ‘hands-on learning experiences they may not have time or resources to have during the regular school year…We fill in the gaps that a normal school year can’t do; it gives them a chance to be creative, use their imaginations, think outside the box.’
The goals are clear.
We want them to walk away with loving to learn more…they are learning, not just hands-on but technology, we have iPads, computers, projectors.”
Teachers love it.
Our teachers that come here, they also get the opportunity to teach a lot of things they don’t have a chance to and they love it.”
Kids love it.
We’re using fun kids toys with science, to make fun learning,” one student says. Others say “they liked having a chance to build projects on their own and follow the instructions themselves.”
But, the kids also get it.
It’s hands-on so you get to build it instead of just the teacher building it and you just answering a question,” one student said [Emphasis mine].
Common sense would say that if you’re doing something that kids love, that teachers love, that promotes wanting to learn more, and that accentuates the growing discontent with “regular” classroom learning, you might want to think about doing that stuff full-time instead of just for two weeks in the summer.
Think: “Our Curriculum Hour” instead of “Their Genius Hour.” Make the “genius” stuff the norm and carve out some time for the curriculum when necessary. Heck, they’ll get most of the curriculum through their genius anyway.
The worst part? Kids have to “score a 75 percent or above on the Iowa Assessment to qualify, or be recommended by teachers.”
Does that make any sense to you?
(Image credit: m-shipp22)
Mary Martin says
The qualification requirements don’t make any sense! Transmits the message that only the smart kids should get to enjoy learning. From my perspective, it’s the same problem with many gifted programs. .. the smart students get to do all the cool stuff; for the rest it’s worksheets and quizzes.
Gerald Aungst says
Much of what we reserve for gifted education looks like this program. We tend to treat gifted ed as a way to “save” high achievers and fast learners from the drudgery of “real” school by pulling them out of the classroom to do enrichment and acceleration.
But what if summer experiences and gifted programs could be used as incubators and think tanks for innovative ideas and approaches that we can’t sell to school boards and communities as full time endeavors? Then when we see success, start pushing it out into the rest of the curriculum. Those of us working in gifted ed and enrichment programs should be striving to work ourselves out of a job by eliminating the need for specialized programs–not because kids don’t have specialized needs, but because they can all be met through the rich and meaningful stuff happening all the time in the classroom.