Is she really going to learn to knit? I’ve tried to teach my adult friends and have about a 50% success rate. I am busy; I have a list of things that need to be accomplished today.
But, she was determined to knit, so she sat in my lap while I coached her through 4 rows of 10 stitches – about a 20 minute exercise. You can see the results of that one “lesson” on my Posterous mother-daugher-based-learning blog post. On Dec. 20, 2011, her blue scarf was approximate 3.5 feet long, and she started a new purple scarf.
What if I had put my list of “desired outcomes” ahead of her interests and determination to learn?
What if I told her that she was not ready?
What if I indicated that she did not have enough maturity, experience, prerequisite skills?
How often do I become focused on “getting through the list of learning targets in the curriculum” without stopping to listen to their interests and questions? Meet Thomas Suarez – an iPhone app developer and a 6th grader:
Meet Birke Baehr – an 11-year-old concerned with industrialized food systems and the alternatives:
What do our learners care about? What do they want to learn, study, think deeply about, and investigate? How can we use our curriculum to serve and support their learning and interests? We regularly check-in with our learners by reading and commenting on their blogs. Here are a few quotes from our Synergy 8 learners about their interests and concerns:
One thing that each member and I realized after we were talked to about poor quality housing and affordable housing, was that there are many children that do not have a safe place to call “home.” ~ TY Did you know that from 1980 to now obesity rates have doubled among adults and tripled among adolescents (USA.gov, Facts n. pag.)? Also, did you know in 2010 according to the CDC 29.6% of people in Georgia were obese (USA.gov, Overweight n. pag.)? Before starting this project, I knew that obesity was a problem and I was very passionate about this issue. Although, I had no idea that obesity affected that many people, especially in Georgia. ~ SE Using this data, we discovered that most people get less sleep than they should. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, attention span, and ability to retain knowledge. Most teens think that they can do their homework and mess around until 12 am and then go to sleep.~ RV I am a person that doesn’t like to work in groups in fear that people won’t do their work and I will have to make up for the work that hasn’t been done. Being in this Synergy class and working in groups has helped me to trust other people to do their work.~ HD
What are the active steps we take to help our learners find tangible evidence of success and learning? How does our feedback indicate that we have faith in their ability to learn, to work collaboratively, to problem find and problem solve? How do we actively demonstrate faith (and trust) in our learners’ quest develop thinking and understanding? (And, what does it convey if we won’t let them try because we are afraid that they are too young, too immature, too inexperienced, or that they are just “not ready” because they haven’t mastered the prerequisites? Just meet the amazing speakers at TedxKids@BC from September 17, 2011 and then think about these questions again…) Who has faith in you? In whom do you demonstrate faith? We gotta have faith.