Saturday, January 21, 2006

Digital Apprentice

So how are real, live, tech-savvy, smart teachers thinking about this idea that learners should be able to focus their learning on things they care about most? It's obviously a difficult balance if they're expected to keep up with the curriculum. One of the best teachers I had in high school completely discarded the curriculum -- he distilled it down to a couple of major concepts and assigned one massive project for the entire course, giving us tons of latitude to pursue our own paths within a very broad topic. It was fantastic.

Clarence is probably too conscientious to chuck the curriculum (and they probably have provincial exams now, which we didn't back in 1989 in Manitoba), but I appreciate his front-line thoughts on the topic -- Personal Learning and Personal Networks:
"Along with this time advantage comes thoughts of personalizing learning for kids, allowing them to capitalize on their interests and the learning infrastructure available at the school for their greatest benefit. Like most other jurisdictions in Western nations today, my classroom follows a prescribed set of outcomes that have been closely mapped by our provincial department of education. I've been thinking of how these things fit together. How can we personalize the learning of the students in our classes while still making certain that we are meeting the required components of our over - prescribed curricula?"
I was also inspired by his reflection on the educational experience of a student at his school who is pursuing audio engineering:
"Certainly her classroom hours will make her into a well rounded person with a (hopefully) fuller understanding of the history of our nation, of literature, science, and math. She is a smart kids and I'm sure the hours spent in a classroom were not wasted, but given a more flexible schedule at school, a schedule which allows her to pursue the interests that she has, would have certainly made her time in our building more productive and useful for her."

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