Friday, December 26, 2008

Ideal learning...

Robin Good's "The 10 Key Components Of An Ideal Learning Environment..." caught my attention with the following:
...we appear mostly incapable to look at our educational system with fresh eyes, or to ask relevant questions as to why we force our most promising youth to spend the most brilliant years of their lives to memorize dates, facts and notions they will have little use for in the real life that exists outside of their secure school walls.
He writes the post in his experience with the Timba music school and offeres the following points:
  • Open access (access to peers, tools, resources at anytime)
  • Access to learning objects
  • Passionate peers ("The learners are the ones that make up the true value of the school..." not the scheduled lectures, age based classes. And this idea: "many of the masters have the right attitude of being teachers and students at the same time, great opportunities arise for everyone to learn something from someone else.")
  • Elders (individuals that have a lot of experience - they may not be great teachers but they are available to offer expertise.)
  • Models (diverse people to follow - a model may not be the one with the most knowledge. They are the ones that people admire and look into the character/knowledge for greater introspect.)
  • Access to professionals (in his example, it is not the teachers, but those who are proven in a specific profession)
  • Opportunity to try, experiment, and be wrong. (Because students are penalized for being wrong, many stop trying...Is there something wrong with that picture?)
  • Put into Practice Publicly. (If you want to dive into something, you better have plenty of water...")
  • Learning from each other, just-in-time, with no end (or exam) in sight. (This increases sharing and learning among peers.)
  • Learners' in the driver's seat. ("When it is the student who can choose his master, peers and practice and learning times, you know something is going the right way. If it is true that it is really up to the learner to make all of the steps to relate and master what she is interested in, then it must follow that it must be the same student who chooses what to learn, from whom and when to do it.")
I know this is all we continue to talk about, but what is it going to take to rock the educational foundation on its ear?

Tags: Robin Good, Timba School of Music


  1. It is OK to be wrong!!! How many of us teachers got/get it right the first time? Yet we expect our students to do so?

    A student's fear of "getting it wrong" is evident when he or she says, "I don't know." (Better safe than sorry?)

    I don't allow my students to say, "I don't know." Instead, I train them to say, "I'm not sure, but I think..."

    That phrase is their permission to get it wrong. And if they do? I say, "No, I'm sorry, but thank you for being brave enough to think. It takes courage to think. You're a courageous thinker!"

  2. You're lucky you get "I don't know." What I often get is dead silence and blank stares. You know, if they stare at me long enough I'll just give them the answer, which is what they've pretty much been doing since God knows when.

    I think the key idea in this post is access. The problem with our public education system is that even though we, as teachers, are encouraged to use "real world" examples and try "real world" ideas, the system is often set up as if it's a vacuum.

  3. Very interesting - Most of the above points can also be seen as a list of reasons I home school my kids.

  4. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to

    say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  5. @CaliforniaTeacherGuy: I agree and love the way that you handle being wrong in the classroom. So much of what we do is wrong. We should be rewarding the thinking nor the right answer (I know, you eventually have to get the right answer...but the process is more important)

    @Tom: School is very much a vacuum and even though we are trying, it is very much contrived. It also sets a divide between "us" (users with new approaches) and "them" (don't get it, waiting for it to go away...)

    @Maine loaner - I deeply wish I would have home-schooled my kids. I should have had the courage to quit what I was doing and take that plunge. But, I am trying to change this from the inside. Education as we know it is broken. Unfortunately the right voices are not being heard.

    @Sarah: Thank you so much for the nice comment! I hope to see you back.