17 December 2006

Education Refresh

It’s hard for me to imagine that government intervention, like NCLB, will produce much good. I tend to think that good old fashion common sense will prevail. In the classroom Project Based Learning (PBL) is an excellent teaching strategy. I have used it and know that to be the case. The PBL approach creates, enables, and supports students to be and act as a community of learners. When you combine that community with a passionate teacher you have learning in action. PBL means students are naturally helping other students, you have a synchronicity that doesn’t have the opportunity to show up in teacher led instruction.

The proof is in the pudding. PBL provides an ongoing performance based assessment, contrasting with the usual paper (multiple choice, fill in the blank) exam this is a more accurate measure of what students are learning. PBL is a teacher dream … so cool … since the learning and assessment occur naturally. Students are genuinely learning.

The robotics team in Phoenix, AZ at Carl Hayden Community High School … these mostly immigrant students form one of the poorest neighborhoods in the state beat MIT, yes that is Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a robotics competition. How could the poorest kids beat the well-to-do kids … who are also older and wiser?

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.04/robot.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8429-2005Mar28.html

http://www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=26507&pageIndex=3

http://www.hispanicengineer.com/artman/publish/article_181.shtml

Public schools need to change. Everyone knows it.

How To Build a Student For the 21st Century
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1568480,00.html

Commission pushes for overhaul of school system
http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/12/14/school.reform.ap/index.html

Education needs to be reinvented. I think two successful examples of using out-of-the-box education strategies and/or methods are that robotics team and the Sudbury Valley School at http://www.sudval.org/. I have talked to the teachers of that robotic team. They use PBL. Their class is a room without desks. The kids manage what needs to be done and the teachers are there to support and direct. The older kids on the team teach the newer kids the skills they need. It’s a natural environment; students learn what they want to learn. In other words, natural curiosity is positively at work. That same curiosity is at play in the Sudbury Valley School; they call it a “Individuality with Democracy.” Schools need to take advantage of community learning and the natural curiosity that motivates students, which is going to require schools getting out-of-their-box.

1 comment:

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