Are we engaging learners or producing students?
This column was previously published in the January 11, 2018 issue of the Clay County Courier.
Young people in college have a unique perspective about learning. They’ve been in education for most of their lives and they know how school works. They are experts at maneuvering the system. As I write this it occurs to me that if K-12 school districts want to know how to improve learning, they should ask for and listen to reflections of their high school Seniors. Their experiences with learning are valuable for administrators that have potential to affect learning for future learners in their district. A conversation like the one I’m describing below would go a long way to help school leaders to guide learning.
While teaching college courses I’ve asked young people to think about themselves as learners. Many had never thought of themselves in that light. They had just shuffled through their 13 years of K-12 school experiences doing as they were asked and required to do. When asking kids about school, the conversation invariably turns to grades. It’s the only way that students and most parents know how relate to learning or to measure if learning has occurred. In fact, grades are so ingrained in our education system that schools that try to eliminate grading (and many schools are across the U.S. as Competency-Based Learning is implemented) often face opposition from well-meaning parents. It’s how they recognize school. Generations of students have grown to believe that the gold-star of learning is the “A”.
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