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04 January 2014 @ 08:40 pm
Catching up on my inbox, now, and two videos caught my attention. The first one made me laugh and laugh and laugh. He's got Obama's speech down all too well.

The second one delighted me. It's a teen--a new teen--talking about his education. I love the job it does of explaining why I ask questions like "What are you thinking of doing when you're an adult?" or "What are some things you'd like to do as a grown-up?" if I'm looking for vocational stuff. If I ask a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I am looking for their dreams and hopes; I'm not holding their answers to any pre-existing expectations. If they tell me they want to be a cloud, so be it! What makes you want to be a cloud? What is it about clouds that you'd like to have or be?

Anyway, I love talks about education, especially from those still in the midst of it, so here's one:

"Hackschooling"--I like it! In these parts we still use "unschooling" as a term for that sort of liberal, pro-explorative non-standardised education.

I would apologise for the spam but of course you can skip over anything and I'm not really sorry. ;D

[Crossposted from dreamwidth.]
þeof in þystro: Bookmothwing on January 5th, 2014 04:52 pm (UTC)
Really enjoyed the second talk! I wish our "traditional" schools followed those guidelines more, but with more and more standardization and PISA breathing down my city's neck it's not about to happen any time soon, and I guess the same can be said for common core schools, right?

It always does make me wonder though- I can always see these kinds of projects work really well on students from stable environments who are driven themselves, but on the kids I taught in the school I temped at after my traineeship? I'm not so sure. The school tried to combine traditional lessons and open periods in which students could work on their own projects as well as assignments at their own speed and incorporated a lot of the aspects mentioned in the talk, but many students did not seem to respond well to the more open arrangements at all. Mostly because their homelives were really stressful and any break that could be taken was welcome, too.
Kiwi Crocus: Hair || Rainbow French braid.cranky__crocus on January 6th, 2014 02:09 am (UTC)
I've said that often myself. Schooling paths like this work incredibly well for self-motivated kids who feel comfortable and empowered to seek out things that interest them. I know I was one of those kids; I was also friends with many children who were not like me. I could tell that, even if they had free reign to study what they wanted, a lot of them wouldn't--either because they had no desire or because they wanted to use the time as a break from the rest of their lives.

What I loved about my high school was the "co-op" opportunities during junior and senior year (16-18). During parts of the school year students were allowed to pick jobs in their fields; they would both get paid and have evaluations sent by their employers to act as grades. It was more structured than the idea of an "open" period for pursuing interests, but it was also freedom from some of the more mundane "what is the real world applicability of this?" subject lessons. Even many of the less-academically-motivated students did well with co-ops.

Perhaps it takes finding the balance between over-structured and under-structured, with just enough encouragement for students to seek out what interests them without the freedom to stop full-on in their tracks and cloud-gaze (well, for more than a healthy moment ;D ).

I think a lot of it, though, comes from the times outside of school--the afterschool programmes, the Boys and Girls clubs, summer camps, various Sunday Schools. That's probably why I've always been such a fan of non-standardised teaching locations and work positions.
þeof in þystro: Bookmothwing on January 6th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC)
The school I worked at did co-oping, too, especially with the students who are most likely never going to enter higher education and are probably going to end up in jobs on the "low skilled" end of the spectrum (what a messed-up term, though) who got really motivated to keep putting up with being shown every day just how bad at learning they were at school with what that seemingly useless stuff could be used for in jobs later on! I loved that. One worked at a gardening centre, could not speak German very well, but turned out to be pretty good at gardening skills and got a lot of self-worth out of that.

With my internally motivated, driven, ambitious, snobby, academia-parented students I'm a bit worried about the degree to which they want to make every single skill they have marketable and commodifyable. Anything that doesn't have a direct application in their chosen field is considered a waste of time by them. For them, job experience settings just made this so much worse. "Reading novels??? WTF for? We need more engineering-related content!!"

I really like non-standard settings incorporated in schools, though I don't have a lot of experience in non-school settings because people scare me and I can't human very well if it's not a fixed setting with determined social rules because I get scared and hide.
Kiwi Crocus: Fantasy || Unicorn nuzzle.cranky__crocus on January 7th, 2014 06:03 am (UTC)
I totally agree with you/your observations!

Ahahaha I do so much better with the non-standard settings. I like people and looser structures/schedules rather than having to stick more strictly to a system. Though I can't say I'm the best at humaning either. :Þ But I think it's only my boss making me doubt that! I do get scared and hide sometimes, though. That may be why I take so many bathroom trips, heh.