Driving Questions 2011: School as “Life Practice” with Ginger Lewman
Ginger had brought up a ton of great ideas in this podcast. She started off by saying how caught-up in their own lives middle schoolers can be. And as she said, they are kind of supposed to be that way, but they shouldn’t be so focused on their day to day life that they lose track of everything else. She gave the example of an extraordinary project her middle school class did. They drew a huge map of the world and made a dance to show the rise and fall of all the world’s civilizations. She presented the basic concept of the project and the students took control from there. They decided what they needed to learn to properly convey the world’s history, and they actually wanted to learn it. Then students were able to use their own unique gifts to help make the dance, participate, film and edit this huge project. It’s like she tricked them into learning (I mean this in a good way, of course). The other huge thing that stuck out to me was their schools Life Practice Model. The basic idea behind school is to prepare kids for the “real world” but how much do schools actually model this idea anymore. The work force has largely moved past the factor model that schools were based on, but schools are still stuck in this pattern. In the day-to-day activities of a classroom, this new model also gives students more control in the classroom. They have to power to start a chat to brainstorm ideas and share their working on a Google Doc with their teacher to receive guidance and support.
Ginger said student should learn the information they need in ways that will make them want to solve the worlds problems. I believe that everything students learn should be concretely cemented in real life. Whether it is a novel for English, or a Chemistry equation, students should know that this information can be useful to them in the real world. As Ginger said, “As a teacher, I shouldn’t be the source, I should be a resource.” It is critical that students understand the bigger picture of what they are learning. It isn’t all about getting the grades and moving on to the next level, it is about find ways to relate what you learn to the world as a whole.