Monday, March 20, 2017

A Different Approach To Teaching Students

In order to take a look at alternative education models one needs to keep an open mind. This applies to both looking at the model and to teaching using the model.

As adults we only see the type of education we have grown up with. We take the stance “what was good enough for me…” but really what we are saying is this is the only way that kids obtain knowledge. And that is patently not true. Learning is an innate way of life for us. We learn new things everyday and have from the minute we are born. As children we learn so much in such a short time by exploring our world, developing ideas, mimicking adults, developing ideas and following them to their logical conclusion, even if we get hurt doing it.

What happens to us?

What happens is that first well intentioned and caring adults use the word no and say things to dissuade children from continuing their inborn curiosity. We are afraid that they will get hurt. We determine that we don’t have the time to answer their questions so we use language that limits their ideas and demonstrate , often unintentionally. Children read this the way we don’t intend and therefore feel shut out of communication and feel unworthy. Secondly we send children to school where rigid conformity is required, movement limited and mind numbing facts are introduced creating boredom. All this leads to a further distancing oneself from the joyous fun  of learning on their own.

As adults we need a change of our mindset. We need to see children as young adults and treat them as such as they are growing up. We need to foster their innate curiosity. We need to communicate openly and clearly without recrimination or punishment. We need to discuss and explain but more so we need to be someone who asks the right questions rather than telling children what to do. We need to, through asking questions lead them to discover what we would like them to see. A child’s discovery teaches them far more than our words ever could.

Some educational structures, such as SOLE, Self Organized Learning Environments, and the Sudbury School model are built upon this idea , that children need exploring and guidance rather than be told what to do. Their results underscore this fact many times over. It is time for the rest of the world to stand up and take notice.

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