I don’t know how to define learning, when you start you get all bogged down in the words and lose the point. But I know it when I see it, so maybe, in order to plan activities that will involve/produce/encourage awesome learning, I need to start not with a bullshit definition, but with some actual learning?
The other day my daughter showed my son a new game called geometry dash. Two days later after he’d spent long hours in his room on his iPad I stepped up to do some parenting and found out he’d been on this game and he showed me a level he’d designed on his own. He played it for me and it was so cool. The teacher in me recognised this as a great learning activity. Not once had he asked for help, not even consulted YouTube, he just started playing and ended up creating something with what he found out. If he had a question he answered it himself by trial and error. When I can say this about an activity I’ve done with a class, I know it’s a success, so now I’m thinking:
A. I should spend more time with my son
B. How can I get this happening in the classroom?
In the meantime he’s gone away and come back to show me another level he’s made that just plays itself! He hits start and sits back arms folded smug as the little block bounces across the screen to the music over obstacles and out the other end. Awesome, if I can get a group onto this game, and guide them through to create their own level, job done, and bonus for extra creative ideas like the non playing level. Wow, that would be the perfect model for teaching right?
Admittedly curriculum content is thin but if I’m pushed- maths vocabulary, the square rotates over the (isosceles triangle), function of path; music, add your own score; IT, what programming is needed?; art, how nice is that design, ………………minor details, this feels good so go with instinct and convince others later.
So I would give out the tablets and get them all playing, and sit back and watch independent problem solving, learning, creating…..but maybe they won’t all be into it as much as my son? What then? What if I start having to push them all to achieve what I want them to achieve? Is that what I did with my boy? No, I did nothing, it just happened because he found the right thing at the right time and got into it. Like John Lennon picking up a guitar. If I try to get a whole class to do one thing that I’ve seen work amazingly with someone else I’m really missing the point.
I read this, “….you should be attentive to every movement of your mind wherever it wanders. When your mind wanders off it means you are interested in something else.”
To make, allow moments like the one described above then you need:
A. Plenty of time
B. Plenty of opportunities for minds to wander off and learn from something they are interested in.
Can a school do this, I mean really do it, fully committed? Not yet I don’t think, but hopefully one day when we stop tweaking and actually change things; take away exams, stop comparing kids to each other, to the norm, to what we’re trying make them into……maybe then schools will become places of surprises and wonder. Imagine.