Saturday, January 26, 2013

THAT is What We Should Standardize, Learning How to Learn!

In following the #educon hashtag today during @MikeKaechele 's session called #standardizethat, I listened in to many conversations around "What if kids designed their own curriculum?".  One of the people on who's group conversation I was eavesdropping said, "I can learn anything I want to, if there is something I REALLY want to learn how to do or learn about, I have the tools, that's what kid's need, the tools to learn how to learn, THAT is what we should standardize, learning how to learn."

This made me think, what I have learned that I just flat out wanted to learn how to do?

About 10 years ago I really wanted a fisherman's sweater, you know the yummy, wool, cable filled ones? They are expensive!

So, I figured I would teach myself how to knit one for myself. I got my hands on some needles, bought some yarn and began googling. Tons of tutorials later, I could knit. I can knit scarves, hats, purses (felting your knitting is super fun), and YES, I made a sweater like the one above. (not until I was knitting awhile, turns out knitting cables & shaping sweaters takes some skills!).

During the process I made a boatload of mistakes, I dropped stitches, made really ugly things, things that didn't fit, used the wrong yarn, mis-read patterns, and guess what? I LEARNED from every single mistake!

So, yes, I really wanted to learn something, so I did.
Even when it was hard,
even when I was frustrated,
even when I made a lot of mistakes.
I really wanted to do it. So I did.

Our youngest son loves to skateboard. When he wants to learn a new trick he is RELENTLESS, no matter how many falls, injuries, or hours it takes, he will conquer it.He REALLY wants to learn it.

When my little sister wanted tile in her bathroom and didn't have the extra cash to pay for it she watched online videos, read articles and did it. Her bathroom floor is gorgeous. She REALLY wanted to learn it.

Do you know what students REALLY want to learn? Is there time & space in your classroom for them to explore? Practice? Fail? Try again?

What about you? Tell me something you learned not because someone said you had to learn it, but because you REALLY wanted to!


  1. " Is there time & space in your classroom for them to explore? Practice? Fail? Try again?"

    It bothers me that we have to ask if there is time for this. My question is "Is your class room centered around this?"

    And then "Why not?" The answer for me is because of the standards driven curriculum.

    1. Ditto. It's what education has become in the eyes of the nation. I think it's sad. There SHOULD be time to practice, fail, and encouragement to try again!

  2. Theresa,
    I have centered my classroom around this kind of learning because I think it meshes quite nicely with the standards. Maybe not quite everything they want to learn, but if we dig beneath the surface we'll find reading, writing, research, and 21st century skills are there.

    To create your fisherman's cable sweater, (which is beautiful, by the way), you had to do research, solve problems, evaluate, and so many more skills that are found in the standards.

    I believe we MUST give time and space for this to happen! I call it genius hour, and we do it once a week in my junior high classes.


    1. But are the standards helping or hindering? When I hear someone talk about how learning meshes with standards, I never quite get that standards have made the process better -- only that they don't make them worse, or that it's do-able to learn even though there are standards. Do we really need standards to learn what we feel most compelled to learn? Isn't it more beneficial to discover what skills are needed as you go...instead of having them mapped out for you ahead of time?

    2. Yes! We need standards. Rather, our students need standards, because that is how we coordinate what each of us teaches and ensures that students get what they need and don't get too may repetitions of just what is fun or easy to teach. We teachers on these forums and such are generally the most motivated and enthused. We probably have a better average at providing what kids need to learn, both in environment and content, than the overall average of teachers in general. But we need to be able to guide students to standards. I show my students the state frameworks. These are the targets- I give them as much leeway as I can to get there. There are resource limitations, including my time and the motivation and organizational skills of any given student. But we've done some great stuff while developing knowledge of mechanics and manufacturing, applying methods of investigation, design, and problem solving, learning about electricity and tools, and why it is important to be able to write as a critical form of communication. And Lots more...