This is a repost of a blog I wrote last May. It's when I started to really understand how we need to place the student in the center of learning. Let me know what you think.
Learning is something I do; Education is something done to me...
I was tweeting with @jackhostager this week and he said the following:
"Carnegie unit- most obstructive & obsolete force in Amrcn edu sys. Until its systematically crushed, school will never advance in2 21st cent." I asked him to elaborate. @mr_segen explained by commenting ,"The false, yet insidious, assumption that seat-time is a measure of learning obscures the quest for meaning." I, well reasoned and professionally responded."You mean I don't get smarter just by being in a classroom?
#shockandawe! Wouldn't that make teachers the smartest people in the world? I then said to Jack, "Learning is something I do; Education is something done to me." The words came out naturally. Sort of like I had said them many times before. I hadn't. I think I had thought those words, or something close to those words, for so long that it was a reflex statement born of irritation and complacency.
Think of our education system. You walk in, sit down for a while, do some things, get up and leave. That kind of sound like McDonald's, getting your oil changed or a myriad of things that are mundane and otherwise uninteresting.
When you were in grade school education was done to you. Your teacher would speak from the front, decide everything that you did during the day, and was seen as the resident expert on everything. That doesn't work anymore. Think about professional development. You walk in, somebody talks to you from the front, the day is completely planned for you and whoever has been brought in to dispense the information is seen as the resident expert on the subject. It hasn't changed. However, the way our generally disinterested students need to be engaged in this initiative-riddled and technology infused-education system has.
Until very recently, I was one of those teachers who saw himself as a resident expert. Now, we don't sit in rows in my class. I don't have an overhead projector. I have moved on past that, but I thought, " I'm the one with the degree. I'm in charge." It took a completely botched lesson to realize I was ignoring the biggest asset in my classroom. My kids. In the time that I had to realize that this lesson was not going to work, I had two girls who had figured out the technology and quickly informed the class what needed to do. I felt like I was in a Matrix movie where they would have one of the slow-motion shots. Then everything speeds up and your are like, "What just happened?"
I was shown the power of student voice in my classroom.
I had spent so much time in my career believing I knew more than my students I never took the time to find out what they knew. Now of course I ask guiding questions and pretest and formatively assess, but what about all of the other things that kids know. We need to utilize our students not just as a repository of education, but as a primary resource for the reform of that education. @angelamaiers famously says," The smartest person in the room is the room." How can I find out how smart the room is if I ignore most of the brains in the room.
If you get nothing out of this post, hear this: give your students a voice in your classroom and then stand back and be amazed at what happens.
Your comments are welcome,