Slowly, as we look at how learning takes place – what the nature of learning is, we see a new model emerging. As we follow the principles that are becoming clear – allowing student interest to determine work, allowing students to move forward when they are ready to – we see that the traditional classroom of yesterday and today does not allow for these things. We see that what makes sense based on how learning happens is not what our schools weer modeled on. This is why we’re changing the education conversation.
Recently I presented a small glimpse into how some of this might work (see post here) . There’s much to be said to make clear how a classroom would work and the retraining that will be required in order for teachers to learn how to facilitate this new arrangement. Fortunately much of this is already being done at some schools around the world. Following a different model of education, these environments have been emerging in rich and poor countries and have been shown to be successful across cultures. They allow for student-lead interest (and still get all the work done!), they follow each student’s pace of learning so as to maximize the “fit” of learning and they reveal high student satisfaction. I’m speaking of the Montessori schools.
These, it turns out, are not just “pre-schools” but extend into and through the elementary years, all the way to high school in some areas. There’s much to be said here, but suffice it to say that a model already exists that incorporates the “how” of human learning.
With the rage that’s only growing about traditional schools, as depicted in a number of recent and soon-to-be released documentaries (Race to Nowhere, Waiting for Superman, The Cartel ) it is abundantly clear to a growing number of people that the “system” is broken and flawed. We owe our children something better, something real, something based on the nature of learning and the nature of humanity. Let’s put aside our special interests and pet projects and pursue what is actually, demonstrably, best for children (NOT for test scores, but for children).