Wednesday, April 04, 2007

If I Want to LEARN

... The place I avoid is SCHOOL.


Because SCHOOL is about credentials. It's not about LEARNING.

If I want to learn, I ask a friend, I read a book, I visit the web, I go to the library, I ask questions of people who might know something. I try stuff out. I fail a few times. Ok, I fail a lot of times. Eventually I figure it out and move on. I've learned something.

If I go to SCHOOL I have to apply. I have to be approved. I have to get permission. I have to wait until the course is offered again. I have to be graded. I have to play the transcript game. I get a credential. I may not have learned a damn thing, but I've gotten the credential. By the time I get to even begin with SCHOOL, whatever I wanted to learn is moot.

WTF is wrong with this picture???

How do we fix it?

[Note: I posted this over on the School 2.0 group in Ning. Got no traction there. Maybe it'll get a little more interest outside of the walls.]


Lesley said...

I have to agree. The only advantage of formal places of education is that they sometimes teach you things you didn't even know that you wanted to learn.

Nathan Lowell said...

Ya, the serendipity factor is something to consider, as is the "immersive" nature. And that's probably good for extended study kinds of stuff in well-formed domains.

But I'm thinking of the dichotomy between what we THINK of as school and what we DO as school.

We think of it as being a place where you go to learn, but the majority of things that people learn, they don't learn in the classes at school. They may learn them in the dorms, or in the pubs, or even in the parking lots of school, but the *classes* ... not so much.

And I'm not saying they don't learn stuff in classes. Just that those lessons tend to be the smallest.

So I'm trying to think of what the education singularity is going to be like. What's totally unexpected? What could *never* happen?

a. Schools as we know them close.
b. Certification falls to ETS or some other external body. (like the Bar Association and Lawyers)
c. ???

Linda Higbee Mandlebaum said...

I sometimes wonder what my students take away from my classes. Some days it's very little, maybe nothing—I'm sad to say. But other days, they seem to learn something that may be lasting. An example of this is the day they watched the movie "Rorie O'Shay Was Here." There isn't a lot of time for class discussion on it, so I have the blog about it and respond to others' blogs. It's there where I get the idea of what they have learned.

The other day in class, the students were to have printed out something to bring to class and one student didn't have it. One of the young men gave her his copy and went down to the lab to print out another one for himself. For that I have him 5 extra credit points. I wanted the class to understand that random acts of kindness were important. He didn't know he was going to earn bonus points when he did it, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision I made to award the points.

I wonder where that will go. What lesson, if any, they will have learned from that. I value kindness, will they learn to do the same? To be, it's a big issue although others may disagree.