Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Thinking Loop - Part 1

@gravy77 rang me early Friday afternoon excited and fired up from the MYSA conference and he shared a comment that struck a chord with me:

"..we want our kids to experience learning, not school..."

Without really thinking about it or understanding why I immediately loved it, it just felt right.

Later that night I put a call out for blog topics I could write to this week on twitter. @cnapi5 replied and a thought provoking conversation ensued, but it started with:

It got me thinking - what is the difference between school, education and learning? Afterall, isn't it my job to bring all three of these together as a magical mix in my classroom?
I tend to think in questions, and in quite a non-linear fashion, so as @cnapi5 and I continued our conversation, I started mindmapping. Online I have two mindmapping applications I like to use - and webspiration. I trend towards webspiration as the online complement to Inspiration, the mindmapping software installed on our school computers. So, I fired up webspiration and got started - I'm still going and my mind is still turning over.
Why are school, education and learning not one and the same?
Or is it possible that they are and I'm being far too cynical?
Random pieces of information and resources I've watched and felt strongly about over the years have cycled through my mind while I've been thinking about this problem I'm faced with.
Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk "Do schools kill creativity?" is one I often come back to. This was my first foray into TED and at the time I didn't even know it (but that's another story). It struck a chord way back then about the need for schools to embrace creativity above rote learning "facts", but given the problem I've been struggling with it didn't clarify. If schools are killing creativity and I believe that learning and creativity go hand in hand, then school mustn't necessarily agree with learning...can it?
Sugata Mitra's TED talk on his hole in the wall experiment seems to support the idea that learning isn't confined to schools. So, what is the purpose of school?
Well, it's to learn...but to learn what? If we're able to learn in more creative, connected, collaborative ways beyond the restrictions of timetables and classroom walls, what is the point of school?
School is the place we go to to become educated - measured against our peers and filtered into different pathways. Okay, so school and education go together, they're both structured, limiting and "logical". And undoubtedly there is learning that takes place - I certainly hope I teach something to my students. But in a world where the emphasis is on independent, self-motivated, life-long learners I'm still left wondering how school and education are moving students towards that point.
And still undecided I come back to @cnapi5's orginal question - what education system would I send my children too? I still come back to prefering an unstructured, limitless, unlogical environment. A place they can explore topics as their attention is caught, where they can learn by DOING and through risk taking (fairly sure my brother learnt more about the laws of physics building his bike ramps and jumps, and the subsequent crashes he survived, then he did in an education system he ended up "failing" because he couldn't see the point of it), somewhere where they're not held back because of age or some other external measure.
I'm still questioning all of this and there's some fine tuning to be done on this post, but I have marking to do in order to measure how well my students learnt the content.

1 comment:

Bob Bartley said...

Hey Nic,
I particularly loved the quote in your post, I ant my children to experience learning not school, that is the perfect description of what things are like on the coal face.

Thanks for sharing that one, it has become my new vision, forget school let's learn something for life...