Learning comes more from asking questions than it does from answering them.
Of course, the education paradigm that we find ourselves in is based upon an opposite notion. This notion holds that by measuring students’ responses to questions that we put in front of them we can somehow surmise how effectively students learn, how effectively we teach, and how well the educational model that we’ve developed over a couple hundred years serves to prepare our students for engaged and meaningful lives.
Perhaps it’s time that we begin to explore a different path.
A month or so ago, the team of teachers we work with came up with an interesting idea based on a post that Shelly Blake-Plock had written entitled, “If School Is Not Relevant”.
“Imagine if schools were judged not by how well students achieved while they were in school, but in how well they achieved once they left. If schools saw their worth not in how many kids got accepted to college, but in how many kids went on to live meaningful and engaged lives and who would point back to their school years as the point of relevancy that was the foundation of it all.”In an age of massively networked communication and virtually unlimited access to information, it seems like our educational model should be exploring the tremendous potential our students have in regards to asking big questions of -- and to -- their world. Authentic audiences can be easily accessed, broadcasting is incredibly simple, and our mission as educators should include teaching our students to work in a world in which everyone is connected.
We can now ask huge questions of the world, and learn from listening to the conversations that develop.
But we didn’t want to only imagine an education assessment model like that, we wanted to create one. What would we find out if we actually asked people to reflect on the relevance of education in their adult lives? What questions could we begin to ask of a data pool like that? Who could use that information and for what purposes? What would it mean if we could begin to analyze this qualitative feedback and learn from it in the aggregate?
So we approached Shelly Blake-Plock and Andrew Coy with a suggestion that we team up and use social media to gather this feedback. What we came up with is the “How Did School Do?” Project, and we’re hoping to learn from the feedback we get.
Our students will watch the videos, study them, and begin to propose research topics based on patterns that will begin to emerge from your feedback. Students will then set out to explore their topic, engage in conversations about their topic, and ultimately report what they’ve learned online.
We’d like to invite other classes to join us as well, and will do our best to support a network of students studying these reflections on school relevance. We also invite anyone else who’d like to join us in learning from what your videos tell us. We hope it sparks many great conversations about what works in our schools. So please submit a video, share this with your friends and family, and help us to get a really big answer to a really big question...
How did school do?