Welcome to our blog

This is the story of two educators on one journey. Each day we will record our reflections on the process of being involved in an innovative educational environment. The decision on our part to leave the public education system was deliberate due to our growing frustrations over the factory "one size fits all" model of education. This model has dominated the educational landscape and is not designed to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. Step one in our journey was to find a place that would allow us the freedom to break out of the system. We needed a chance to just breath and facilitate learning in the ways that we both know are best for children. That step has led us to Rosemary Beach Florida to work with the students attending the OH Institute. The OH Institute is a unique educational environment that we find humane. The curriculum focus is on the individual learner with an infusion of technology project based learning. Currently, it has 20 students in grades 4-11 all of whom are seeking something different than what the factory system of education has to offer. This is where our adventure begins...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday October 20th

Wednesday October 20:

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...)?
These are all things that we have seen done over and over again in a traditional school. My disconnect is coming from thinking that the emphasis of OH was a student centric (i.e. learning driven by their own passion not state standards) technology focused school with an incredible environment.

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.

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