Friday, October 1, 2010

Scholars or Makers?

Here's a thought-provoking article called School for Hackers from The Atlantic that explores both alternatives and supplements to modern education.

Most schools offer a variety of afterschool recreational activities, as well as scattered experiential activities within the school day, and yet they remain activities rather than a thoughtful and accepted method of coming to the learning itself. The 'makers' in our lives still find themselves searching elsewhere for hands-on learning as they experience 'lagging executive skills' in their schoolwork. Are their organizational and sequencing skills deficits actually a problem if we allow these non-linear thinkers to apply them in a different scenario? Are the results invalid if kids arrive at them differently? Or is it just because circuitous learning makes the students difficult to track through standardized testing? There is no doubt that most of us consider seemingly indirect paths to learning to be inefficient; certainly they take more patience to monitor. But what are the efficient people missing along the way?

Are there ways to put more emphasis on multisensory, project-based, extended learning experiences for kids who operate that way, without having it be 'shop' or 'voc ed' or some other low-expectations track? Does learning differently necessarily mean learning less?

Please, please weigh in on this! These are the kinds of issues that keep me awake at night.

2 comments:

Kimberly Simmons said...

Hey Maya - I haven't had a chance to read the article yet, but as usual wish we had a soiree forum to chew through these questions and ideas. Off the cuff my sense is that we institutionalize kids as much as we teach them and that serves a function in our society (both positive and negative). School would be a really different thing if it were truly about inspiring individual potential or even cultivating "selves." On the other hand, you're asking something less philosophical, maybe, and more in line with the multiple-intelligences, except at an extreme. What would adult life be like if school didn't sort and organize us all so much?

Kimberly Simmons said...

Hey Maya - I haven't had a chance to read the article yet, but as usual wish we had a soiree forum to chew through these questions and ideas. Off the cuff my sense is that we institutionalize kids as much as we teach them and that serves a function in our society (both positive and negative). School would be a really different thing if it were truly about inspiring individual potential or even cultivating "selves." On the other hand, you're asking something less philosophical, maybe, and more in line with the multiple-intelligences, except at an extreme. What would adult life be like if school didn't sort and organize us all so much?