In a time when interesting content freely flows from smart phones, it is unspeakable that we are still forcing kids to sit in boring environments and call this a learning process. When you observe a class of first, second, or third graders as they almost all raise their hands to answer every question, there can be little question as to what’s happening when in just three more years at the beginning of middle school, this excitement surrounding learning no longer is present in many kids.
During elementary age years, core academic skills have to be onboarded if students are to make it to adulthood in good shape to play a functional role in society. At that first year of middle school age, kids are able to begin choosing their own learning direction. They still need adult influence to keep them pointed in what many would call the “right direction” but the right direction does not include Algebra 2 for everyone.
@clm ask How can we enhance the extent to which learners shape and own their lifewide and lifelong learning?
To answer your question, we should not only allow but expect middle school age and older kids, to equally split their daily educational time requirements between two intentions. The first and most important task for these young learners is to find their passion. Time and proper environments have to be set aside and planned for if this is going to happen before a student’s first year in high school.
As a part of this passion search, students will continue the process of mastering core academic skills that should be mastered by all. Currently these skills are not mastered but instead there is a never ending, always on time process of memorizing abstract knowledge for the purpose of passing a test.
@clm stated There are contexts in which it may be appropriate for learning to be more highly structured or educator driven.
Today the internet provides an infinite quantity of knowledge. It also provides the ability for individuals to be in contact with people who share their passion. With the stated desire that students own their education, there are very few context that resemble those current 45 minute periods where silo’d core academic content is taught, that are are still acceptable. Even the mandatory drivers education class is personal to kids. That course is a personal ticket to freedom for many and while it is also scarry, these classes when mixed with hands-on driving are not boring. http://goo.gl/wm5DqX
As teachers begin to see students take charge of their own learning paths, they will begin to observe how students doing passion work create a learning environment not only for their peers, but also for teachers. When teachers become more like coaches and witness students being successful with their passion projects, they get the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness and ability to learn. This models what it means to be a lifelong learner and modeling is one of the most successful methods for allowing others to learn.