Thursday, November 04, 2021

what are we willing to fix?

We know what's wrong with education in America, but what are we willing to fix? The answer, of course, is "Not much."

“The division into subjects and periods encourages a segmented rather than an integrated view of knowledge. Consequently, what students are asked to relate to in schooling becomes increasingly artificial, cut off from the human experiences subject matter is supposed to reflect.” (John Goodlad, A Place Called School, McGraw-Hill, 1984, p.266)

It should  be noted that kids are not as dumb as typical schooling assumes they might be. They are not empty vessels ready to fill with whatever beliefs and facts we can pour into them. Instead, because they are smart, they realize the differences between what we try to cram in and what they've already learned about life and reality. The artificiality that they see while sitting at desks, does not compare favorably with the real world outside the classroom walls. In other words, they know when facts and beliefs have been contrived to suit their conditions of containment and knowing that schooling is unworthy of their full attentions, they tune out.

The simple answer of course is to use the real world and projects within it to provide opportunitiies for concrete (rather than abstract) learning.

On Tuesday our outdoors study class came to my home to hang one of the bat houses we made on my barn. The installation involved my having to climb a 16 ft. ladder sliding the bat house up as I climbed to mount it on a French cleat. With the house mounted, I'll observe to see if we get bats nesting within. I'll mount a board below so I can observe the accumulation of guano and report back to the kids.

Yesterday I had my Kindergarten students in the wood shop to practice hammering nails. I provided blocks of 2 x 4 lumber and sheetrock nails for them to practice with. They asked, of course, "Can we take these home?" To carry home actual solid evidence of student learning (bent nails and all) is an important thing, and each of the students was proud of what they'd done.

Yesterday, also, we began making a bat mobile. Not the kind that Batman drives, but one that hangs from the ceiling and celebrates bats.

Today I'm meeting with  video crew and producer from Ozark Public Television to do an interview at ESSA.

Make, fix and create. We live in a real world. Let's learn like it.

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