I’m just over the half way point in my graduate school journey. I postponed getting my master’s degree for various reasons. I now find myself experiencing learning alongside my two sons and all the students in my elementary school. I’m thankful my K-12 education occurred during a time when educational institutions were still hanging on to the idea that school is a place of ideas rather than a place that prepared you for a particular career. This isn’t a blog post on the importance of a college education compared to vocational education. This is a post for the college bound and people invested in this learning pathway. The cost of a college education is so steep that I can’t help but think that this has changed the purpose of education these days. The high cost also comes at a time when we already understand that learners will need to reinvent themselves in the work world many times over. I think we’ve lost sight of the need to foster curiosity and strike a balance between self-directed learning and learning from others.
I’ve always taken pride in my love of learning on my own time and of my own choice. However, graduate school has taught me that you can develop a fixed mindset when you always are in control of what you learn. Experts talk about learning happening when you are outside your comfort zone. Straying from your comfort zone can occur when you are either confronted with ideas that do not match your current schema or when you are provided with a topic of learning that has been unexplored. We need to encourage students to quit going through the motions and find the good in what is deemed important for them. That might be better received if students were provided time for more self-directed learning so that they felt a healthy ownership for the exploration of ideas.
I fear that ideas or events such as: 20% time, genius hour, makerspace, and Global School Play Day, to name a few, will be seen as fads rather than a plea for balance when it comes to the exploration of ideas within the education setting. We need entrepreneurs and inventors and thought leaders.
Some readers may perceive this post as a longing for the “good ole days.” Not at all. I am advocating for students who are so compliant that they dare not challenge their teacher. I am championing the teachers who dare to try new things in their place of learning despite others not understanding. I am participating in a dialogue for students who speak or act up and tell us, in not so kind ways, that school isn’t working for them. Learning is fun and challenging. Make it so. The costs are too great.