What’s your school balance in terms of teaching subjects vs engaging purposes?

From “‘The Coolest Thing Ever’: How A Robotic Arm Changed 4 Lives,” Joe Palca, NPR, Morning Edition, November 28, 2013 [HT @tnsatlanta]

The three Rice students heard about Dee in an unusual freshman engineering class. Instead of learning engineering principles from a book, students form teams to come up with engineering solutions for real-world problems.

And remember what Sir Ken Robinson said in September 2013 at colab:

The basics are not subjects. The basics are purposes.

What’s your school balance in terms of teaching subjects vs engaging purposes?

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Previous Posts in this Balance Series:

Ingredient School? Or Culinary School? What’s Your Balance?

How would you think and feel about registering for “Ingredient School” instead of “Cooking School” or “Culinary School?”

On the first day, and everyday, you learn about the various ingredients and inputs for countless dishes. However, you rarely, if ever, actually get instruction, opportunity, and practice in combining the ingredients, experimenting with different recipes (even inventing recipes!), and tasting the concoctions created by actually mixing the ingredients and making a meal.

The course would actually be about grocery store shopping and refrigerator stocking, but the pots and pans would remain cabinetted, and the stove and oven would live without flame. You’d have to combine on your own time, without the support or benefit of your expert guide. You’d have to cook, finally, years later, on your own time.

What would you think? How would you feel?

What if the ingredients were math, English, science, social studies, etc.?

If you calculated the actual UX (user experience) and tabulated proportional time that learners spent dealing only in ingredients versus actually getting to cook something, what would your school profile look like?

[Blogger’s note: I’m so fortunate – blessed – to work and learn in a community that believes strongly in providing “cooking classes” and experimenting with preparing whole meals!]

Change the World… Change School

From “Young People Are the Geniuses Who Change the World,” Angela Maiers, Switch & Shift: Human Side of Business, 7/28/2013 [HT Angél Kytle]

At Choose2Matter, our opening line in speaking to young adults is “You Are a Genius, and the World Needs Your Contribution.” Next, we tell them they can change the world.

Why do we say this?

Because studies show that, at the age of five, 100% of students believe they can, and will, change the world. When I visit with first-graders, they always confirm this by enthusiastically charging the stage en masse when I invite them to share their genius and tell me their ambitions for changing the world.

By the age of 9, only half of students believe they are geniuses who can change the world.

By the age of 16, just 2% of students believe they are geniuses who can change the world.

When I visit high schools, I see something very different than I do in elementary schools. The genius is still there, but it’s buried under years of schooling. How? I’ve actually had educators and parents comment on my posts that we shouldn’t tell students they can change the world, because it sets unrealistic expectations. My response: unrealistic for whom?

An incredible post that then highlights nine young people who are changing the world. One of the people is Jack Andraka, whom I spotlighted on my own blog before. And there are eight more.

Correction. There are THOUSANDS more! MANY THOUSANDS!

A few more of the many – all whom I’ve met thanks to TEDxAtlanta:

Brittany Wengerpost and TEDxAtlanta Profile and Talk

Brittany Wenger, a high-school senior, is well on her way to making the diagnosis of breast cancer less painful and more accurate.

Clare O’ConnellTEDxAtlanta Profile and Talk

At age 20, Claire O’Connell is a co-founder of EyeWire, an online game / “citizen science initiative” that’s helping to map the human brain by mapping the connections between retinal neurons.

Hannah SalwenTEDxAtlanta Profile and Talk

Kevin Salwen is a writer and entrepreneur. With his 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, he is co-author of The Power of Half. The book is the story of a eureka moment by Hannah that resulted in the Salwen family’s commitment to reduce their consumption by half — started by selling their house and moving into one half its size.

School is not just preparation for real life. School is real life. And real life could be school.

Einstein said, “It’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Survives.

How might we enable curiosity to THRIVE in formal education?

By helping school become more about the “business” of real-life, relevant work. There are armies and armies of young people who care and want to change the world. A few will demonstrate the initiative to do so in spite of the rigidity of an industrial-age school system. But how many more might be activated, inspired, and motivated IF school were structured to nurture such inherent passion for wanting to make the world a better place – while the learners are IN school?

Recently, at our school, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, faculty T.J. Edwards (@TJEdwards62) and Mary Cantwell (@SciTechyEDU) have invited and enlisted others in our ranks who might want to work on OpenIDEO’s Creative Confidence Challenge.

What if we ALL participated?!




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Related Posts:

Is School Enough? via PBS (HT @aenclade, @willrich45)

amanda enclade (@aenclade)
9/1/13, 4:12 PM
Preview of a soon to be released PBS video. Wondering: why can’t passions exist in school as well? buff.ly/18bFe2B via @willrich45

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 1.56.04 PM

“Is School Enough?” Preview from PBS.

I’m curious: what role did school play for @JackAndraka

Jack Andraka discovered an early-detection method for pancreatic cancer. From all I can tell, he worked with great determination and persistence over a number of months. From the passion and project, he grew context and content mastery.

He was 15 years old. A ninth grader.

I just watched his TED talk (a #MustWatch), and I am inspired by his scientific and human contribution to the medical and health communities. To our world.

Of course, I am also deeply curious how much he was able to “work on this” in school. In the TED talk, there is mention of his biology class, and it’s a very interesting reference. Images in the talk show Internet searches at home and lab work at Johns Hopkins. Two of my hundreds of questions – did he earn credit at school for this work? What role did any teachers and admin play?

So, I’ve tweeted him, and I hope I’ll get a response.

I fully believe that we can redesign school – systemically – to enable more of the “Jack Andrakas” to surface and succeed. That would mean more success for all of us.

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Related: Brittany Wenger