I suppose there are a lot of reasons why it has come to this point. Why we still settle for passive classrooms full of students asked to do little more than listen for an hour a week or more. Why we still settle for largely rote memory assessments of student “learning” over a 15-week period that often come to a grinding halt. Why we keep using only the institutionally procured products rather than the community around us or the amazing resources that surround us.
There are a lot of reasons.
More people in the village.
A lifetime of passive learning experiences as students and teachers in “schools.”
Not enough hours of daylight.
Yesterday one of our faculty came into our offices and shared some of her summer course with us. The month long course spend part of the time in Alghero, Sardinia. Yeah, like in another country. We talked about some of what students experienced and you can imagine what we heard. The challenges. The trials. The difficulties. The amazing moments. The sunsets over the Mediterranean. Just take a look at what they did. What they experienced. Look at what they wrote. What they lived. Here is the class site.
After she left, I was wondering as anyone would, “Why has most of our schooling become sitting in rooms?”
I know. Sure, there are these initiatives, many just recently adopted, called “service learning” or “community based learning” or “active learning” or “life-long learning.” Some of those have come into our institutions and for whatever reason, after a few years of implementation gone by the wayside. Some have stayed. There are many reasons.
I know. I remember taking students away from campus for two weeks backpacking or mountain biking and the challenges I had negotiating family responsibilities. Other courses. What little social life I had. It is hard to take students out of a classroom to go anywhere, much less for an extended period of time. It is not part of the “normal” view of schooling. It is never “expected.” Maybe it should be? Anyway, there are a lot of reasons not to do such things.
Becoming is hard work. It is often uncomfortable.
As one of the student from the Sardinia class notes in the video below, “Maybe we just need to push ourselves into uncomfortable situations.”
There are a lot of reasons why the schooling experiences of so many has too often become so dreary. It is not about the amazing teachers I have known over the years. It is not about the administrators who rise to these great challenges in the landscape of schools and society. It is not about all those students who sit there in classrooms waiting for amazing things to happen. It is about me. Each day. Each decision.
Sometimes I just need to remind myself to push the boundaries and to feel that uncomfortable feeling. Sometimes I just need to remind myself. So today, I have.