Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Child's Reflection

Scott McLeod's recent post got me thinking.  Last week my child came home from school and we were talking about one of her classes, how it was going, and what she was doing.  This was not a class that she wanted to take, but one that her mother emphasized would be good for her and a good challenge.  She commented, without agreeing it was enjoyable of course, that it was a course that she might come to like.  I asked her why.  "Because in my other classes it's just memorization, but in this class, there are no correct answers.  I can be creative.  It doesn't have to be one and only one answer."

I think this is really a depressing state of affairs that students see education as this low-level, input-regurgitate style approach.  Some of this is necessary to get basic facts, but to base the entire educational curriculum not only doesn't advance our future leaders, but also doesn't push our kids' thinking and challenge their thoughts.

How are we helping students to see what life and the rest of the world has to offer if we are set in a "sit and git" style of teaching and learning?  How are students collaborating with those outside their district, state, and country to compare how others are learning, how they are similar and different from themselves, and how their culture is really not as foreign as we may think?  Why is it that in the 21st century we still have teaching focused on the teacher and not the student?  How are teachers being encouraged (and restricted from) using the vast amounts of technology available to them?  Are there support systems in place to make all this happen?

What am I doing to combat these challenges?  In my own classroom students Skype with and collaborate with other classrooms around the world - Spain, Argentina, France, US.  Students create their own stories, both digital and face-to-face in class, offering the direction of where the lesson will go, the vocabulary to be learned, and the conversation to be entered.  Check out these stories!

My daughter did not set out in the conversation to accuse anyone of anything, nor am I.  However, it was a very bold statement of what life is like for high school students around the country.  Thank you Mr. McLeod for your timely post regarding the 3 Big Shifts.  I think we still have a ways to go.

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