Sunday, November 7, 2010

Is a student-driven, student-centered education the real way forward in American education?

I was blown away by the implications of the research that is the basis of the first video and by the ideas put forward in the second.


I have thought a lot about the possibilities that these approaches have for fostering intrinsic motivation to learn in my students and in American students in general. I think it's important that we first recognize that the American education system is fighting a losing battle for students' attention. Whether this is something new and largely due to technologies like cell phones, ipods, and video games, or if students have always been distracted, remains to be fully proven as far as I can see. Either way, American students are largely distracted by issues that they find more relevant than school to their lives.

This brings up a larger question. Will schools that are judged on the performance of their students on standardized tests, that are based upon standards that most kids find almost completely irrelevant to their lives, have any ability or even motivation to draw students in by offering an education that they, the students, individually customize and self-regulate?

Don't misunderstand the type of education that I am suggesting. I do not mean that we should completely abandon standards or that a student who is only interested in video games should have a "video game-based" education. I am suggesting that within the context of what students are interested in, they might be better able and much more willing to meet certain grade level expectations for each of the classic disciplines with a special emphasis on literacy and math.

I believe that the only way to truely transform our education system is to create schools that foster intrinsic motivation by offering an education that is relevent to the desparate needs of our diverse students. The only way we can provide this is by sharing the control over what and when students' learn with the individual students.
Can we change our schools, which rely almost exclusively on extrinsic motivation to spur students, into more relevant places where our students want to go to learn? Should we? Do we really need to?

Your comments are encouraged.