As we continue to explore and define what a school should look like (\”education needs to be…\”) let’s look at how the pace of learning is determined: how fast or slow one moves through the material in question. After “interest” this is a pretty significant topic.
Again, the intuitive approach is to start at the beginning and to move along as you are able to, right? Once I grasp the first things I’m ready for the following steps or whatever comes next. To not take this approach would mean either lingering with something that I’ve already taken in, mastered or grasped (and then to risk having interest drop) or to move along before I’m actually ready to, to take on the next step before I’ve really taken in the present one.
This is quite basic- when you teach a child how to ride a bike you don’t move them on to turning and riding in circles when they are barely able to manage “balance” by riding ten feet.
But what is the model of a traditional school? Once again, we find that the design here has little to do with how people actually learn. This model attaches a set of content, the curriculum, to a time line. It has been determined in advance how long it takes to master the material. One size fits all. Sounds incredible doesn’t it? Does it really take every student the same amount of time to learn how to read, to grasp the first principles of geometry or how to play a scale on the recorder? Of course not.
We need a model that allows for the unique learning pace of every student. If we want to maximize interest we need to make sure that we’re not losing students due to being left behind or being asked to languish with material they are ready to move beyond… stalled in the middle ground.
So next let’s look at how we can accommodate this very basic and obvious necessary component of learning environments.