Why Actual Learning Should Be a Hot Commodity

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Photo CC by: Ken Whytock

As I reflect on the readings that I completed on Learning Vs. School–it became very apparent to me that a question that needs to be asked is: what are we really teaching kids these days?? Yes, I understand we teach them math, science, history, language arts, etc.  However, are we really teaching them to creatively learn with those core subjects?  Sometimes we live in this world where we wish we could just choose one thing to learn about and go from there–but in all actuality that is not creative thinking either.  Therefore, instead, what if we could take those core subjects and induce creative learning to aspects that interest our students within those different areas of learning?

What is the Need for Passion-Based Learning?

As I read through several of the articles, I found the two that I thought would fit to my way of thinking best. Several of the points that  George Couros makes in his post 3 Questions to Drive Passion Based Learning  fit very well into what I believe needs to be asked in the classroom to help drive more effective learning into our students today.  George says if students understand that they can ask questions such as–what will I learn, what will I solve, and what will I create–then it is going to help shape a student’s learning throughout the year.  If we can teach them through each of the core subjects to question what they will learn, what will they solve, and what can they create from their learning withing the core curriculum–then it is going to start developing those deeper creative thinking processes, which in return can create more passionate learners.

Another article that I choose to help support my idea was posted by Saga Briggs.  She wrote a piece on 25 Ways to Institute Passion Based Learning in the Classroom in which I found the majority of it very insightful as well as helpful for my own future classroom.  Saga mentions in her post,

“…passionate engagement can empower students to feel in control of their own learning. Whether you are talking about passion, inspiring passion, cultivating passion, or thinking passionately about your own interests, you can be the one to revolutionize learning.”

I thought that this quote was fantastic–simply due to the fact that it is so true that when a child is engaged in his/her learning then they have the feeling that they are in control of what they are learning.  I think that’s all anyone strives for–is to feel in control of what we are doing with our own selves.  I think that even at a younger age when children are trying to find an understanding of the world–they want to be in control of what they are doing; therefore, when we, as teachers, constantly tell them what they are going to be doing and learning–it creates almost a sense of resentment.  If we can give them more choices and control of their own learning, it is going to create a more passion based responsibility.  We’ll find that they will take more responsibility for their own learning rather than being pushed to learn things that don’t interest them.

What Needs to Change?

So now we ask ourselves–what needs to change?  The education system needs to change the fact that we push our kids to take tests.  In my opinion those tests only go so far, and only tell us so much.  How are kids supposed to do well on test that holds no content that interests them?  Last week I watched a Kindergartner sit and take a standardized test that was “supposed” to take her 45 minutes–instead she sat there for nearly 2 hours to finish it–simply because she didn’t want to do bad and disappoint her teacher.  What is that doing for that child?  Do we really think that she was engaged in what she was doing? My answer would be no, because her body language told me a completely different story.  Additionally, do we really expect to believe that any of the content on that test was material she was passionate about?  I highly doubt it.

A system has been created that bases a child’s learning off how they can complete a test.  If we are going to constantly give out tests then why don’t we start changing that up, and start making sure the child is tested on the same learning concepts–only with topics and material they are interested in?  Would it really be that hard?  For example, say a 3rd grader is going to take an English portion of the MAPS test–how about we have surveyed these kids on topics they like–and have those tests differentiated with readings and questions that pertain to that kids likes and interests?

Though I would rather reduce the number of tests our students take these days–(because it cuts out genuine learning time) I am highly doubtful that will happen in the near future.  If that is the case then I think we need to start giving some different options within the testing world so that it better fits our student’s needs.

Many changes need to made to further the idea that passion based learning needs to be a hot commodity–however, it’s a matter of making many others believe that this is the route we need to take in today’s day and age.

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7 thoughts on “Why Actual Learning Should Be a Hot Commodity”

  1. Yes I agree! When children are not interested in a subject, no matter how long they spend studying it, it will just NOT make sense to them. Why? Well, for the simple fact that it is something they have no interest in. And how can test proove if we are smart ir not?

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    1. It makes me mad that in today’s day and age that we really base a child’s amount of learning through standardized tests…. there are so many different ways that we could gauge it. How can we not start considering that these tests are way to long, and hold not content of interest, and also the fact that test anxiety is a huge factor for many of these kids as well. So many aspects affect these tests and it is really bothersome to me; however, going into teaching, I am going to have to do my best to make sure my kids are comfortable taking them and that I don’t transpose those negative feelings over to my kids. So many things to think about!!!

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      1. That is right. Test anxiety was something I always suffered fom, and still do. Even if I knew the information, I would go blank. It made me soo mad. But what to do…

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      2. Yeah, I’ve never really struggled with it to much unless I am completely unsure of the content–then I definitely panic. I know that they come up with all of these different techniques, but even still–how effective are those techniques???

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      3. Along the lines of like mental exercises to help calm the mind down if anxiety or panic sets in–breathing exercises, etc. I know there are schools that will accommodate a student by putting them a separate room because a lot of time anxiety will set in when they see classmates getting done before them. Just small things along those lines that helps more with mentality than anything else.

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