A New Culture of Learning
Collaboration and resource creation will be paramount to the cultivation of learning how to learn and leveraging resources available. Steering students and parent/guardians away from the rigidity of the sole source mindset can be the catalyst of lifelong learning and unlimited innovation. Innovation and problem solving has taken a backseat in the “microwave” generation. The expectation from not only many students but many parents is for the learning to be provided from one source that is all inclusive. When the learning does not come relatively easy or quick then the focus tends to turn to blame. The culprits are generally absolute and consist of one or more of the following: history of the student struggling; parent inability to assist the student because they aren’t knowledgeable enough in the subject matter; lack of teacher ability to educate their child; lack of teacher providing a sole source for the student (with or without the parent) to be successful in the content. These areas of concern from parents should be addressed but many times are avoided or addressed in an unproductive way. Some children perform significantly less well in school as a direct result of poor education attitudes and a lack of exposure to educational resources at home (A New Culture of Learning pg.71). Other students and/or their parents have been convinced that transfer of information from the teacher to the student is the only resource. The process will never keep up with the rapid rate of change in the twenty-first century (A New Culture of Learning pg. 34).
The mechanistic approach where learning is treated as a series of steps to be mastered is a teaching based approach where standardized testing is the focus (A New Culture of Learning pg. 35). Learning is meant for more than being successful on standardized testing. The world of today is not only struggling to find solutions to current problems, future problem as well as an unforeseen problem between are not standardized and not only require innovation and imagination but inquiry. Allowing environments where learners can tinker, plan, imaginer, experiment, fail, discover and collaborate ignite the sparks necessary to extend and create solutions. Students are not only learning but so is the teacher as he/she facilitates the learning within the boundaries that define it. Within the maker sessions learner feel comfortable venturing into the unknown even risking failure. Play becomes a strategy for solving problems placed before them and extending their thinking into inquiry. The “why” begins to turn into “what if” and innovation is slowly being born. I agree with Brown and Thomas pointing out that the challenge is really finding a way to seamlessly join structure with freedom to create something completely new. Organized chaos just might be what we need to jump off the pages of the current books and think outside of the boxes that are constantly changing inside and out.
Maker sessions will involve collective as valuable resources since study groups not only learn from others, but individuals understand more about their own thoughts on the topic at hand so they in turn are learner with others as well. Discovery can occur through discussion, inquiry, debate and the act of relating information back to person connections that they share. Contrary to the belief of many teachers their students are constantly learning even if they appear to bring nothing to contribute to the content being taught or reviewed. Engaging students to share and extend their learning could be accomplished by acknowledging their agency then suggesting how it relates to the content. Empowering students through encouraging the validity of their identity, agency and importance to the collective of learners will help build intrinsic motivation. These areas allow students to feel more confident and transform the way they think or feel about learning so that collectives not only inspire them, but they take ownership leading to passionately creative community contributions.
Asking why should be embraced. Significant learning takes place when learners extrapolate cumulative knowledge intertwined with cultivated knowledge. Intrinsic thirst and hunger for knowing ignite sparks that turn in to flames creating increasing agency. Learners increase their agency in an environment were the stakes have been lowered even though the learning expectations have been raised. Mistakes are okay as they are embrace and learn from them. Knowledge is no longer forced onto the learner once they are motivated and determined to know. This can create confidence which assists them in feeling comfortable sharing, listening, questioning, challenging and confidently taking on any problem placed before them. “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him as long as the fish supply holds out. But create a collective, and every man will learn how to feed himself for a lifetime” (A New Culture of learning pg. 53).
I believe that exposure is paramount to a significant learning environment. Blended learning provides exposure to technology and a vast amount of information. Some information can be used to solve problems while other information discovered could drive discussion questioning solutions and appetites for more agency. The maker mindset allows for exposure to the tacit dimension. Through making we can start to see a different kind of knowledge. The component of knowing that is assumed, unsaid and understood as a product of experience and interaction (A New Culture of Learning pg. 74). Telling takes a back seat to showing then the learner knows more than they can tell. Within a maker school student gain exposure to opportunities for mentorship fused with engaging teachable moments. Throughout every school day these teachable moments could naturally take place by making connections during advisory, dismissal and even while simply waiting in lines while students transition. Teachable moments are almost unlimited and don’t have to be or feel like a forced connection for the staff or the students.