“I want to talk about learning. But not the lifeless, sterile, futile, quickly forgotten stuff that is crammed in to the mind of the poor helpless individual tied into his seat by ironclad bonds of conformity! I am talking about LEARNING — the insatiable curiosity that drives the adolescent boy to absorb everything he can see or hear or read about gasoline engines in order to improve the efficiency and speed of his ‘cruiser’. I am talking about the student who says, “I am discovering, drawing in from the outside, and making that which is drawn in a real part of me.” I am talking about any learning in which the experience of the learner progresses along this line: “No, no, that’s not what I want”; “Wait! This is closer to what I am interested in, what I need”; “Ah, here it is! Now I’m grasping and comprehending what I need and what I want to know!”
We are finishing up history class with an independent study. As students narrow their topics, I keep asking them to take the Carl Rogers’ test before they choose their topic:
- No, no, that’s not what I want.
- Wait! This is closer to what I am interested in, what I need.
- Ah, here it is! Now I’m grasping and comprehending what I need and what I want to know!
My goal is to walk each one through the process so they get to #3 before they are satisfied with their topic!
Imagine if school was always lived in that #3 area–Ah, here it is! Now I’m learning what I want to know! What a great educational reform that would be! Can school be like this?
If schools were really like this, think of the suppertime conversations: Parents would ask their children big, real-life questions like these, via Will Richardson in this post “What Did You Create Today?”
- What did you make today that was meaningful?
- What did you learn about the world?
- Who are you working with?
- What surprised you?
- What did your teachers make with you?
- What did you teach others?
- What unanswered questions are you struggling with?
- How did you change the world in some small (or big) way?
- What’s something your teachers learned today?
- What did you share with the world?
- What do you want to know more about?
- What did you love about today?
- What made you laugh?
May school be a place where parents aren’t limited to questions like: “What grade did you get on your math test?” and “Do you have homework tonight?”