PROCESS POST: Putting it all together OR Mood board for school=life

When I talk to people, it is highly likely that I will end up sharing something that I have been contemplating and studying for years. I just can’t help it. It usually emerges in, at least, one of two forms…

If school is supposed to prepare kids for real life, then why doesn’t it look more like real life?


School, in its current form, is a profound interruption from our natural ways of learning as humans.

Think of how children tend to learn before formalized schooling. Picture the events of childhood learning – to crawl, to walk, to talk, to play, etc. Now, picture “school.” In what ways do your two mental-imagery exercises match and differ?

Repeat for the learning that typically happens after formalized schooling, during our adult lives. How do your mental images compare?

I’ve shared here before that my own sons did not “disaggregate” their explorations and learnings about the world until they started formalized schooling. In other words, it wasn’t until school that PJ started to say things like, “Oh, that’s math.” Or, “that’s language arts – that’s not math.” Before school, all of the learning was more integrated and holistic. When he could start to put it in rooms, some doors closed.

Two posts caught my eye just moments ago – one on Twitter and one on Edutopia’s blog. I think they help illustrate the idea of re-blending ways of knowing and integrating various capabilities. I think they provide elements on a mood board for re-imagining school and how to blur the lines between school and real life.

Here’s the first – a tweet from SciencePorn:

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 11.15.54 AM





Here’s the second – a post from Shawn Cornally (@ThinkThankThunk) on Edutopia. To whet the appetite for a full click on that link, I offer a few quotes that resonated with me.

As the media coverage and administrative spotlight is turned on these new benchmarks, I’d like us all to keep the following in mind: Engagement trumps all.


we have millions of children in schools learning things on narrative arcs that they had no part in authoring.


As more and more references to STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Math) flood my Twitter feed, I can’t help but wonder how long until we all realize that lessons go where they will, which results in unplannable but reflectable STEHALM (Science, Tech, Engineering, History, Arts, Language and Math) experiences.

Isn’t that great! STEHALM could be letter labels in that photo of the PDA + the video camera + the laptop + the watch + the beeper + the cell phone + the Polaroid + the Walkman. Just two representations of the same overarching idea(l).

When will we act to make “school” more like that iPhone, instead of carrying around the discreet elements as separate and disaggregated pieces? Even if we subdivided the day and did some of each – integrated project-based learning where challenges and issues drive the agenda, as well as some time for exercising the disciplinary lenses sparked by those authentic explorations – I believe we would be moving in a right direction to help make school more life like.

= = =

Thanks to those who inspired with those posts!

1 thought on “PROCESS POST: Putting it all together OR Mood board for school=life

  1. This was a great post; someone tweeted it out yesterday (was that you?). I linked it to the FaceBook conversation that is being organized by my local Poway Unified School district. Like the reference to “atomizing”.

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