Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Real life comparisons

As the father of an 8 month-old who just started crawling this week, I see the frustrations children face in their being denied information. A whole new world has just opened itself up to my son, and he is taking full advantage of exploring EVERYTHING within his reach. The only problem with this is that his mother and I have not made our house very "baby-proof" yet, so he very often finds himself exploring things that will harm him, or that are not meant for babies. A classic example is his love to pull things from the top of our coffee table. He hasn't learned yet that this habit could cause trouble for him if he were to pull something heavy down on himself.

Drawing a parallel to my students, they have not been given the chance yet to learn, for themselves, the perils of taking their education for granted. Perhaps that's a problem with our school system as we know it today: students are educated (or an attempt is made to educate them) without ever allowing them to get a glimpse of what is out there for them. They never get to learn that shirking off their educational opportunities could be life-changing in the long run. These life lessons, like the example of heavy objects falling on my son, are learned through the "school of hard knocks" instead of a safe, nurturing environment (what school should be) where they can make mistakes without the heavy object clunking them on the head.

The question then becomes, what does this environment look like? Where can my child be free to pull things from a table and safely learn the consequences? Where can students learn the value of their education before they don't have it?

I see the answer as two-fold: first, this environment CAN happen in schools, and it just may look similar to the classroom we inhabit right now. Second, I truly believe that this environment can be, and is created through the use of technology. Students can explore video, audio, read blogs, and visit websites that allow them to virtually experience anything they can think of. The benefit of using the internet and other types of technology, is that students can have all these experiences in a classroom where they can share and discuss their experience with peers, while balancing that with teacher oversight and guidance.

I think our schools DO have a future in our children's lives, we just have to see it before we have ruined it by pulling it from the coffee table.

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