In my mind, this is fitting to follow Zoe’s post on idealism.
I’ve been struggling with our perceived and practiced project based learning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s super. It’s way better than what we’ve been doing. But is it enough. Are kids owning the learning, or are they owning a given/suggested learning. And in that case, are they owning it to the max. And in that case, are we believing/promoting that we’re doing something that we’re not.
The biggest push back for all this crazy thinking is .. that we need some sort of structure, some sort of basics.
I posted the following on our lab connections site shortly after a skype convo with James…
I think structure means pattern.
But when people say it pointedly they often mean a pattern that is imposed.
Sometimes, they mean a pattern that they can see, or name.
And sometimes they mean a pattern that directs and confines.
So when people say – I like structure, I like to check whether that means
“I like to be told what to do”
“I like to tell other people what to do”
“I like to be able to explain and justify what I’m doing”
Each of these are different.
The thing is
all things have structure!
A room full of kids has a structure
even without telling them what to do.
They will be structured by their feelings toward each other,
and toward the objects in the room,
and their beliefs about justice and fairness,
and their cultural expectations,
and the roles they choose for themselves,,
and what they had for breakfast,
and whether they had a fight with their siblings before school,
and prior agreements,
and what happened yesterday,
and the things adults do that they witness,
We watch the kids,
feel what’s going on,
diagnose problems, if any,
provide support if requested.
If the kids are constrained by a lot of imposed ideas, that disturbs the system and makes it hard to see what’s happening.
It’s as if you were trying to understand the psychology of a child solely
by watching them play chess.
That’s a lot of structure.
But chess is not a very expressive experience.
I think basically, the problem for a lot of us is that we just don’t believe kids are healthy humans who instinctively seek their own growth.
But one thing is that one person’s organization/structure is another person’s muddle.
We can’t know what’s really happening for the kids
inside their heads.
We do have to trust in the wisdom of the growing mind.
And sage advice to stoke our boldness factor from Ewan McIntosh @ewanmcintosh here:
In the UK, we have the world’s least happy children. In the US, the number prescribed Ritalin is growing to frightening rates, and correlates to standardised testing. In Finland, home of Western Europe’s ‘best’ education system, we see its highest suicide rate (note the ranking of South Korea & Japan, too).
We have an ongoing contentment problem, and the answer to it lies in helping young people discover what their passions are, giving up the artificial reins we as teachers, parents and governments use to strangle those passions and the creativity that lends itself to their growth.
Try to experience a bit of abandon this week. Try to dabble a bit in finding you.
Looking forward to my next read, A New Culture of Learning, Brown & Thomas
and working on a fluid, flexible, malleable, … structure here.