Friday, April 26, 2013

Let Them Learn... For Pete's Sake!

This picture speaks a thousand words but here are five key points I got from it.

1. Physical Space: It's not a rectangle room* with tan walls and 30 desks oriented in rows facing a whiteboard. There is overwhelming space to create, craft, discovery and work with their hands. The room is comfortable, green** and personalized. How we work as educators and life long learners not in factory schools.

2. Eager Smiles: Do you see the excitement and focus in their face? It's not compliance driven. Enough said.

3. Use of technology: It doesn't overwhelm and take over their life. The importance of crafting and creating is stressed just as much online as in "the real world". The Chromebook was used when she felt it necessary and let go of when it wasn't important. It doesn't consume her. May I also point out that she found it on the desk on her own, turned it on and found the website all by herself. And she's in 1st grade. Can this be stressed enough? These kids will out learn all of us and that's awesome!

4. Information Consumption: The books are open. Being read, analyzed and then used. Drawing cats from them and planning their future art projects. Where does this dreaming get lost in our system?

5. Let them create: A majority of the desk is covered in paper and markers and fun stuff. This is HUGE metaphorically. Nowhere is there lined paper and #2 testing pencils. These girls come down to this desk all the time and create***. They work towards their future career goals, not towards their future high school and college. They are architects when drawing houses, fashionistas making American Girl Doll outfits online and CEO's when they run Target and various other companies. But, most importantly, they are teachers sharing their passions with pretend students because the opportunity to share isn't present in school.

Presentation from Jeff Utecht.
Photo reused with permission
from Kristina Peters.
The divide between school and life is too big. A student said today****, "I don't learn in school. I memorize stuff. And then I forget it all after the test because there's more to learn after this." This isn't life and it shouldn't be school. Not even close.

*Okay, it really is physically, but not mentally.
**The color of learning.
***I don't do anything but monitor the use of glue and glitter.
****Perfectly quoted because I wrote it down today.