CC Photo – by Timlewisnm
This week in the digital literacy course I’m taking we watched Logan LePlante’s TEDx talk Hackschool Makes Me Happy (you can watch it here). The general theme of the talk is about how educating children in more creative ways can open them up to greater potential happiness and better overall learning experiences.
One of the best things about this talk is that it is being given by a teenager. Often, when an adult is the spokesperson for education we forget that the student has a voice as well.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was raised in a homeschool environment. While my own education was not necessarily as well executed as it could have been, I still found the benefits in a non-traditional education. For the most part I was left on my own. If I wanted to know something, I had to want it badly enough to put in the time to learn about it. No one stood over my shoulder, no one checked on me to make sure I was learning. A homeschooling environment led me to start my own business at the age of eight. I learned how to twist balloon animals, I purchased the product necessary, and then I called different restaurants in town to find someone who would hire me. I even had business cards. I felt pretty cool!
If I had been constrained by traditional school hours and a stereotypical learning environment I might never have had the chance to allow my interests to branch out into the realm of balloon twisting.
I’m pretty hard on the school system. But I think we have to be hard on it, because it isn’t measuring up. Which means we need to create a change. We can’t sit around waiting for schools to become more creative if we aren’t doing anything to change them. We can’t expect them to foster the arts if we don’t speak up when the common core is touted ever more frequently as the priority.
LePlante talks at length about the opportunities his nontraditional education offers him. But how many students actually have the chance to learn the way he does? Realistically, what are the costs related to all of his travel and education compared to the more affordable public school? As a parent who is considering a nontraditional education for her own child I know that I can’t afford to educate my child at home the way I would want to. I have to work. What options are there for people in small towns?
Either we make a change in the public school system or the majority of parents won’t be able to afford to take alternative routes towards educating their children.
After reading Bud Hunt’s blog post, “Centering on Essential Lenses: Make/Hack/Play” (you can read it here) I can’t help but agree that we have lost sight of how important figuring something out independently can be to the student. Hacking, as he puts it, is essentially just fiddling with something to make it better.
When I was a kid I was left alone to repair computers, to cook my own meals (just so you know: cinnamon in your scrambled eggs is pretty gross. I found that out the hard way.), to dance, to play, to learn independently. I was allowed to create and fiddle at will. I gained a lot of confidence from that. Today’s educational system often leaves the parents making their child’s school projects for them. Kids have lost the ability to fiddle in the quest for a good grade. Instead of praising the quality of the project produced, the child should be praised for the hard work they put into the project.
Hunt talks about the impact of agency on the learning process. While I never had to get up a certain time to go to school, I definitely gained a full awareness of my agency. My education pretty much goes in the face of all the traditional standards. So here’s what I learned from my own Hackschooling experience. If I put in the work I can do almost anything. No one can stop me from learning, and if I can learn how to do it, I can make it happen.