My Lunch with Will

So I was a part of the kickoff workshop at Kinkaid this past Monday, and I have to say I was pretty floored by this whole PLP thing. That is to say I really thought I was doing well with the “connected learning” concept both in working with myself and in my classroom.

Boy, do I have a long way to go.

After realizing that the trees are really thick where I am standing right now, getting a free ticket to see the whole forest, if even for a day, was a true eye opener. Will and Sheryl, PLP’s co-founders, showed me a possibile future that the world of education could realize given the right leadership and risk-taking. Granted, Will wouldn’t see change as a risk; instead, he would see change as unavoidable and a necessary “growth spurt” to education, whether we like it or not.

I like it.

So here is the scene: I’m sitting next to Will after his keynote presentation on where he believes education is headed and how we as connected educators are going to take it there. I was a kid in a candy store the whole time. I knew I was a progressive thinker in education, but I had NO IDEA how deep the rabbit hole truly goes. But I digress; Will is talking to the table about learning in general and why our industry is he’ll-bent on failure as it stands right now because of the demand for demonstrating the memorization of fact versus the need for learning how to discover and learn according to one’s true interests.

I felt as if I agreed with this statement for the most part and was practicing it in my classroom, so I chimed in howmy iPad centered curriculum was driving this idea of individualized learning.

“Let me respectfully challenge your statement,” says Will. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to deny him…he may know a thing or two I didn’t (that is pretty thick sarcasm).

Will went on to speak to me about the dangers an iPad has in allowing teachers to build a curriculum that allows students to move at their own speed, but denies them any right to move off some over-arching path that I have created. So even if I was planned enough to give students a WHOLE UNIT worth of material to follow, their journey is still defined by that unit, and does not leave them the means to reach out and explore.

Thus the truth of my “new toy” comes out: I may have given my kids a way to individualize their learning, but I haven’t built for them a way to take what they already know and “leave the reservation.”

Needless to say, I am thinking pretty hard about this one. I don’t know if I can alter my curriculum at this point to the degree that everything is bent on self discovery…I am dealing with some externals that will prevent this from happening. But I am very confident that bit by bit, perhaps one class period at a time, I can develop ways for students to learn based on their own discovery and shared knowledge of their classmates. For this reason I love my job; learning how to ignite discovery seemed so remote from my own job description last week.

It is today that I realize that discovery IS my job description, but I had been doing it wrong. It’s time to bridge the gap.

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