I just finished reading “Innovators Mindset” and I am now onto “Building School 2.0”. I think it’s safe to say that instructional reform has been on my plate for the last few months. However, it’s been on the table or at least in my cupboard for years. I’ve always believed that there was a better way of learning and teaching than the way I was taught. For so many years I felt like I was alone because I never truly understood who thought the same way as I did. For the most part, we all listened and learned from the people around us – in our school. We didn’t have easy access to information and people outside of our own schools so we had a very narrow perspective on instruction. There were less people sharing so there was less learning.
The internet and social media has turned that model on its ear. Having access to so much information, ideas and perspectives has connected thousands (millions?) of us who have the same concerns about our education model and we now feel empowered to move forward.
Don’t we want the same for students? Do we want students to “sit and get” and recite back to us what we fed them? Is this learning? Is this the learning model that will serve students best? I would argue that this learning model is affecting more than just learning in our schools. It affects the entire culture of our schools.
The control that some of us impose on our classrooms produces a passive student who questions very little and feels powerless. I’ve seen this in so many of my own students. That’s why I got responses like “I don’t know.” or “Just give us the answer.” That’s why students would sit quiet when I asked questions because they knew that if they waited long enough, I would give them the answer. That’s why the line ups for late slips were out the office door. That’s why the quality of work that was turned in to me was so poor.
When students are encouraged to ask questions and research and solve authentic problems, they feel empowered. In this kind of learning model, students learn how to think critically and to collaborate to solve problems. In this kind of learning model, students are more likely to share their experience with parents/guardians who are now more likely to be an active partner with the school. Questioning real problems and acting on a solution teaches students citizenship which affects the way they act to support each other in the classroom, on the playground, in the hallways, or out in the public.