Some children will be reading in comfortable chairs. Some will be digging into a scientific research question by conducting readings on a nearby pond. Some will be working on computers refining their skills in math while others are sequencing DNA. Some will be collaborating around a design challenge with new friends across the globe. One group will reenact a battle from medieval times, while others are learning on site, at jobs. Building, making, imagining, interacting, investigating, reflecting, connecting, shaping, participating. There will be challenge. There will be high expectations. And there will be tons of variation. With all of its possibility, the school day of the future will be one thing: it will be designed.
Elliot Eisner, one of my favorite education professors, often asked the question, “If aliens landed on our planet and walked into our schools, what would they think the school is meant for?” We’d brainstorm: Learning to sit in rows? Learning to get up and move en masse at the sound of a bell? Learning to stay in place for 40-minute increments? Learning to override your bodily functions? Learning to answer the questions that the person standing in front of the room already knows the answer to? It’s hard not to realize that a school, upon pure observation, looks like a training ground for behavioral management.
In the end, it’s not that much different than the design of most of our industrial work environments – time, constraints, structures, tasks, a consistent and organized system. It’s what we adults tend to design without really thinking.
But when you watch children – undeniable natural learners – they create different solutions: play, discovery, interaction. They observe the world, they stick things in their mouth, they touch things. They connect with the world to learn it. They experience it through their senses. And in discussions with the people around them, they create language and meaning and amazing new ideas and interpretations that the rest of us get the benefit of learning from.
It’s not too big of a leap to want the school day designed around these notions of how we naturally, and individually, learn. Designing the day around discovery of information, connections to real world challenges, discussions digging into our experiences with the world.
Understanding the cold, hard truths behind the concept of empathy
I’ve had this poster hanging in my room since 2011 when I chanced upon it in a shop in Granville, Vancouver. In a way it encapsulates a lot of what I’ve grown to believe and the life I’ve been trying to live for a while now. Sharing it with all of you in case you might pick something up from it…
"The only comparison that really could apply is an emergency room doctor in a natural disaster."
A bit of teacher training advocacy. Libby Nelson talks about teaching as a craft, as opposed to just a job.
A great resource for parents, teachers, and students. There are all sorts of articles, and first-hand accounts.
I could spend a whole morning reading through it.