Logan LaPlante has it all right. I watched the above Ted Talk this evening in complete awe of how composed and well-spoken this thirteen year old is. Not only are his ideas compelling, but they are working as evidenced by his talk.
Too often I have spent time in Twitter Chats pontificating about the necessary changes that education must employ if we want to correct the many woes it inflicts upon young learners. Tradition robs youngsters of creativity and beats them into submission to prepare them for a world that doesn’t respond to the old model.
It’s time for a change – not just one of words and theory, but one of action. We don’t have to passively accept the systems as they are – as a matter of fact, a simple shift (as Logan suggests) of considering learning as a habit of mind and not a system, allows people to do it differently.
Imagine learning that is propelled by interest and experience with the end goal of happiness and not just a job. Careers will come no matter what, but why not prepare students for live happy lives.
The talk opens with Logan discussing the question that he hates most “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We’re all guilty of asking kids this question and unimaginatively expecting answers that are limiting and bland. He suggests that the answer should be happy.
Many of the suggestions made in the talk can and should be happening, not just in home schooled situations, but in “traditional” institutions of learning.
Here’s what I propose:
- Let’s do away with the bell systems in schools – kids are dogs and shouldn’t be trained to move when a bell tells them it’s time
- Let’s do away with age based “grades” and move to mastery levels
- Let’s do away with content/discipline specific classes that fail to connect with other skills and disciplines – education and life aren’t compartmentalized
- Let’s do away with grades that judge student learning based on obedience and compliance
- Let’s do away with testing and summative, data driven cultures that don’t consider important human stuff that sets our kids apart
- Let’s do away with making decisions for kids, to teach them to critically think but actually do the opposite
- Let’s start asking kids what they are interested in learning
- Let’s start listening to kids when they answer
- Let’s start developing partnerships that students take an active role in developing curriculum that works for their experiences and can teach others with
- Let’s start valuing learning over passing criteria or crediting or grades
- Let’s encourage kids to take risks and fail and try again
- Let’s foster spaces that encourage creativity and innovation
- Let’s empower kids to help each other
- Let’s step away from the front of the room. Get rid of the blackboards. Get rids of the desks and create spaces that take learning and playing and combine the two
- Let’s embrace technology because it’s where kids live – it’s not a distraction – it’s a tool that works
- Let’s stop assigning work, just to assign it – get rid of meaningless homework
- Let’s get kids out of traditional classrooms and into learning spaces in and out of schools
Honestly, I could go on and on because I’m all fired up right now. It’s time for some of us to actually get together and make it happen. We need to start a school and just do it.
Who’s in? It’s time… the bell isn’t ringing but the kids are clamoring for the change. They don’t realize it yet, but school should be fun and compelling and engaging… NOT something they seek to avoid because it’s useless.
Are you ready to get on board? What’s your contribution?