What if more learning happened “in the field,” and we only occasionally gathered in that place we now call “the classroom?” As it stands, most of school happens in the classroom, and we only occasionally take field trips. What if we flipped that? What if we grouped according to certain criteria and attributes and did most of our learning in the field. Then, when necessary, or on a regularly scheduled basis, we could go on a “classroom trip.”
Related post: “PROCESS POST: Is flipping the classroom just a step on a prototyping path?”
Some of what I’ve been reading & studying today:
Much is written about “flipping the classroom” – the practice of moving teacher lectures, videos, etc. to time at home, and moving interactive work to the school day. This reversal flips the age-old routine of lecturing in class and doing work at home. With the transformations to school that I imagine and for which I advocate, I wonder if flipping the classroom is just a step on a prototyping path.
I am not knocking the practice of flipping the classroom! I think it is a step in a right direction. But I think it is only a step. I do not see it as an ultimate destination.
So many people write about flipping the classroom, and I myself have only really studied the trend – I have not truly flipped the classrooms with which I participate. In the past two to three years, I actually tried to move away from any teacher-assigned homework, except that which the student learners feel (with some coaching) is essential to moving their curiosity and project work forward. You might say I failed to implement this change fully, but I was trying to move in a right direction myself.
Here are just two, interesting, and recent, reads on flipping the classroom:
- Jonathan Martin’s great book-review post, “‘Flip Your Classroom’: the new book from Bergmann and Sams,” which includes some additional, link resources at the end of the post.
- Anatomy of a Khan-troversy, by Francesca Duffy, which I clicked to as I was reading Education Week‘s “Teaching Now.”
So, where do I think we are headed, if flipping the classroom is just a step on a prototyping path? What might the ultimate destination look like? Or at least another step, or steps, further down the path…
- More self-curated learning for students: I think the lectures and videos assigned to students to watch at home are examples of “curated learning.” School people paying attention to the transitions in education understand that school used to be the fundamental repository of knowledge and information for young people. School, in the physical sense, is no longer such a monopoly holder. People have far greater access to information, now, so we are moving our curated learning from the classrooms into greater alignment with other means with which people obtain their self-curated information. This seems a logical step. I think Khan is such curation. I think TED is such curation. I think Chicago Ideas Week videos and the Do Lectures videos are such curation. Podcasts and iTunes U are such curation. But when are we going to trust young learners to curate their own instruction and learning, based on their passions, project-pursuits, and personal interests? I’m not sure yet that I think we should move entirely to such self-curation, largely because I think scaffolding, coaching, and advice from expert curators are important, too. But I believe we are out of balance – I think we need to trust students more to read what they want to read, to watch what they want to watch, to discover what they find curious. [And I know the cynics will jump quickly to the worst-case scenarios, but that kind of thinking paralyzes the majority because of the “sins” of a small number of explorers. And for those we can offer great adult sherpas and mentors, right?!]
- A reclaiming of the home and a different model for a school year: While I may not align perfectly with Alfie Kohn, I do think he makes some excellent points about homework. I believe that flipping the classroom – curating video lectures for students to watch at home – assumes to a great degree that the school day is not enough time in 24 hours for students to learn. So school “invades” the home. Yet, there are things that I desire for my sons to learn that aren’t necessary assigned from a school teacher. I want my boys to play in the neighborhood, to romp in the creek, to throw the ball for the dog, to read a book of their choice, to draw a picture, to eat a longer dinner with my wife and me, to sit and do nothing but talk and visit. I am finding that each year of school brings far fewer minutes for these invaluable lessons. Homework gets in the way much of the time. And I cannot make it all up – all that “lost ground” – on the weekends. Like most things – eating, exercising, etc., – we are better off engaging some each and every day…not cramming more in later. And I want my boys to sleep. Whatever happened to the 8-8-8 thinking? Eight hours to work, eight hours to recreate with family, and eight hours to sleep. [And I don’t mean a rigid conforming to such a formula – just a model for better balance.] If we think “school” is essential for more hours of the day – enough to send homework or flipped, curated lectures home – then why don’t we lengthen the school year and separate ourselves from the agricultural framework of the school year? It’s just a question! I am a huge lover of camp, summer break, trips to the beach, etc. Those do not have to go away or perish with a 200 or 220 or 250 day school year. When people react so negatively to that suggestion, I think it is largely because they have only one movie in their mind about what “school” could be. But school could be so much more…ironically by being so much less.
- I’ve run out of time on my “process post” guidelines that I set for myself (self-curated and respectful of other things I need to do), but I was going to write a really awesome paragraph here about the real-life, project-based, integrated system that the school day could be. But you who read here have read a lot of that from me already. If the school day were more compelling, more engaging, and more immersive…then students would choose to self-curate their learning at home, or they would take a much needed break and enjoy a balance of time with friends and family, pursuing equally important learning.