If our interest and motivation are piqued when we work on tasks that interest us, that directly involve us, that have outcomes based on our abilities, and that succeed or fail based on our level of understanding, effort, and involvement, then why not apply this same logic to student learning in our classrooms?
To do this, we first need to realize that the students are not in our classroom, we are in their classroom. And the room is not set up for us to teach; it is here for us to be facilitators in the students’ learning. We are here for the students, not the other way around. This means that we need to educate them in a fashion that makes sense to them and the world they live in. And the best approach I have found is to assign them tasks involving real-life problems that require hands-on solutions — in other words, learning by creating and doing.
From Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE) at Curtis School and the Center for the Future of Elementary Education:
We find it ironic – and we think the students do, as well – that for all the focus “the education system” receives in the national media, input from students is rarely ever sought. We wanted not merely to give ‘permission’ to students to talk about their shared experience, but to invite them openly to offer their input of how best to improve our schools and our system.
In two blog posts (here and here), Thinnes shares an incredible, transformative experience made possible through a partnership between sixth graders at Curtis School and Cortez Middle School. In the sharing, Thinnes offers a fabulous model and case study for inviting collaborative voice and awareness and action from students – to help empower them to be deeply involved in ways that education and schooling can innovate and reach higher trajectories.
When we see student learners as the core solutions seekers to issues – especially those in which they are primarily immersed – we not only stand better chances at successful transformation, but we also facilitate active citizenship that will likely prove essential to the continued enhancement of our national democracy and global opportunities.
Bravo sixth graders and faculty facilitators at Curtis School and Cortez Middle School!
Openness. Schools that embrace it and welcome it will thrive. Schools that resist it or imagine that they can control it will struggle significantly.
In sequel to yesterday’s post, I offer this #MustWatch TED Talk by Don Tapscott. Brilliant! In 17 minutes, Tapscott summarizes the essential path points to thriving as a school of the future:
From the admin to the teachers, from the students to the parents…from the interior to the exterior, from the past to the future – the four principles above will define the schools of the future and the future of schools.
If you are serious about enhancing and improving education and school, watch Don Tapscott’s TED. Be a part of, not apart from, the murmuration.