Tuesday, January 05, 2016

building to teach

Over the past few days I mentioned the need to bring skilled teaching into school, those with skilled trades to re-energize the learning environments and excite students about learning. One organization that is doing just that is Building to Teach. The primary focus of building to teach is to re-energize math learning by training teachers to build boats and engage students in the building trades. What better way can there be to learn an abstract subject than by bringing it into concrete form and making it relevant?

Building to Teach has a new website where prospective teachers and programs can sign up for on-line training. They also hold training conferences. For many of the students who benefit from Building to Teach, a singular opportunity to do something real in school can make all the difference in the world.

One thing that many educators will notice is that when children hit the ages of 11-15 all hell breaks loose in their attitudes toward schooling. These teachers may also note that that age corresponds with what Piaget called the Formal Operational Stage which
"involves an increase in logic, the ability to use deductive reasoning, and an understanding of abstract ideas. At this point, people become capable of seeing multiple potential solutions to problems and think more scientifically about the world around them."
The point here is that an increase in the use and availability of logic helps students confirm the trivialities of their learning environments. Along with the ability to understand abstract ideas comes the need to test and confirm those abstract ideas. Should it come as any surprise to American policy makers that we would have a high rate of dropouts in America? The formal operational stage places children in direct conflict with the artificiality of contrived learning. Should they not rebel? They cut the shop classes and music classes and laboratory science classes. They cut field trips, outdoor education, travel, and other means through which children might test the reality of what they are compelled to consume while sitting at desks.

Building to Teach counters that thrust. While Building to Teach is only intended to work with math at this point, it should serve as a model for all learning.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the opportunity to learn likewise.

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