I’ve been out of school for a long time now. Long enough to have realized that the Great & Powerful Oz which we all sort of feared (“If you don’t do well in school your future is ruined!”) is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Long enough to know that my Senior English teacher was correct when he told us that 95% of everything we’d learned in school up to that point was garbage.
Being around my two unschooling kids has caused me to learn a lot about the nature of learning. The two main points? Learning happens all of the time whether we like it or not, and there is never only one correct way to learn.
Is that so difficult to comprehend? You wouldn’t think so, but in the many years since my Senior English teacher dropped his bomb on us, the Great & Powerful Oz has become a dictatorial behemoth with countless teachers as his minions, doing his bidding and buying wholeheartedly into the propaganda.
Did you know that there are school teachers out there who believe that some kids don’t know how to learn? Period? What is all the more baffling is that in any discussion on this topic, at some point someone will mention the kids’ love of apps, games, etc. But of course mastering those things doesn’t count as learning. You are only learning when you are doing what the teacher tells you to do, in the way they tell you to do it. If you want to watch proverbial gaskets being blown, try pointing out that perhaps the kids just aren’t interested in the subject at hand (or how it’s being presented) and suggest that if those same children can memorize song lyrics and extended scenes from their favorite movies, perhaps their ability to learn is intact.
Perhaps they are just tired of the garbage and of being force fed condescension by way of “learning & success strategies”.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could do an experiment and allow an “underperforming” group of school-kids to learn whatever they wanted for a year? To somehow fund the project so that if they were interested in cutting hair then that’s what they got to learn; if they loved music mixes they could apprentice in a recording studio or whatever else they wanted. How quickly do you think those kids, given the freedom to choose and support in their choice, would turn into top notch “learners”?
No school is going to agree to such an experiment, of course. If they did, they’d have to admit that the Great & Powerful Oz isn’t so great or powerful. They would be forced to question everything they’ve chosen to believe about learning.
So instead, those of us who know that all kids are voracious learners need to keep talking. Keep leading by example. Maybe we’ll convince one family, and then another. And another. Until Oz is nothing more than a silly man behind a curtain, pulling levers and peddling garbage.
Following is a link to a blog post written by a teacher who can’t figure out why some of her classes don’t seem to want to learn the subject she is teaching. Check out the many, many comments, most of which are also from teachers. (My comment – as of right now – is apparently still in moderation. Oh, and I have no idea what a ‘Flipped Classroom’ is. If you do, maybe you can tell me.)
Here it is: Flipping with Kirch