For most University students, this week has been filled with papers, tests and very heavy academic assessments. After 3 years of this routine, I finally feel as though I “get it” understanding exactly how much time I need to complete assignments, the importance of keeping a healthy body and mind, and in turn the importance of sleep. This; however, has taken me 3 years of late nights, caffeine boosts and stress break downs to learn. Speaking to a few of my first year friends about their midterms, stress and feelings towards the first set of assessments I can really see the confusion and different schools of thought in terms of how to accurately prepare.
Now you may be thinking, “what does this have to do with EDUC4P19?” but I promise that there is a connection. Looking at how prepared or unprepared students are for these big assessments, I am realizing the strong importance of “big picture” “lifelong” skills that are coming out of the “New Story of Education.” This week we were asked to read a chapter of Interweaving Curriculum and Classroom Assessment that focuses on “Exploring Inquiry and Interdisciplinary Models” of education. I was impressed with the different models of inquiry that made it possible for students to be central in their own learning. I’ve always been aware of very different schools, in which; for instance, there are no lessons and rather students become their own teachers on their own terms. But these schools are so drastically different from the “Old Story” that I was brought up in. Looking at the Inquiry learning model and interdisciplinary model that are so central to the narrative of this textbook, it is so wonderful to see how you can integrate student centered learning into a classroom at a generic school.
The focus of the “new story” Inquiry learning model is to “go where the kids interests are” (Drake et al. 97). In doing so, students are working with concepts and ideas that are interesting to them. By doing something they are passionate about students begin to enjoy learning in ways that many would have never dreamed. By starting learning with major research questions that are multifaceted in their “answers” and therefore they have the capability to become the expert, lead their own education and act as an “expert” in their field.
In this “New Story” of education, I am interested in not only HOW students learn, but also WHAT they are learning. In terms of content learned this goes way beyond the math equations, literary devices or scientific processes. WHAT students are learning is more than that. Students are learning how to guide their own education and learning skills that should follow them throughout the rest of their life. In creating portfolios for example in their Inquiry based learning projects, students set deadlines, topics of interest, organizational techniques and many other life skills that; in my opinion, are far more important than the content of the subjects. If students learn life skills, organizational skills, how to regulate themselves etc, they will be set up to succeed in “real life” when they have to be self sufficient and lead their own inquiry.
Connection time! Remember those stressed out students I talked about at the beginning of my blog? My question is this, did their education thus far allow for self sufficient, developed learning? Did their “story” of education fall into the new or old? Did they get to learn life skills from their experiences, or was it just content that they may have already forgotten? There is so much more to school than just classes. There is so much potential for life learning, experimentation and the ability to succeed and fail in a controlled and nurturing environment. If a student has been able to experience, and learn about themselves during this time I believe that as they grow and develop, entering the “real world” will not be as much of a shock. As teachers are we educating our students only on the teachable that we have mastered? In my mind education is so much more than English, Math, Science or Geography. It is development for life, for success and for the student.