Although I like the structure that we are designing for the students I am wondering about where we are being innovative. My two main questions about the HS social studies/literature piece are:
- How is what we are doing any different than really good teaching/best practice in a traditional school? And what is the emphasis of the product (i.e. I thought it was a published network PBL piece but now am getting feedback that it needs to be more traditional in terms of looking like a normal project -i.e. sculptures, dioramas, reenactments...)?
There is definitely nothing wrong with the direction things have taken in fact it is quite easy to facilitate the model in this direction because it is what we were doing at PK. However, it makes me still wonder about the possibility of a true student centric model of education where student interest drives the learning not a model where adults dictate what they must learn.
Now that I have identified the disconnect in terms of what I was thinking the model was and what it is expected to be I do feel like I can finally work and make progress. I will make sure that the learning is done in a way that makes sense for the students even when it is not their choice about what they are studying.
This of course leads me back to my own thinking on what education should be/could be and what the reality of education is even in a place that professes to be innovative. I think that education should be driven by student choice whenever and wherever possible. I think depth of learning comes from letting a student's passion drive what they are learning. I think that education should be harnessing the tools that are our student's reality (social networking, gaming and other technology tools.) I think that education should happen in a humane environment.
What I have found on my journey here is that we have one of those three things in place. We have a humane environment for students to do traditional PBL and FLVS work. Their PBL is driven by the state standards as well as outside pressures for products that show depth of understanding of the standards. I know that to most people that sounds great and it is not a terrible thing. We are preparing them in the way that they are expected to be prepared. But for me it signals a need to continue to reflect on the idea of what education should be for the 21st century and how we keep preparing students in ways that mean nothing in terms of their future endeavors.