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.