Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Time to Think

How often is space provided for students and teachers to think? Do schedules governing the school day and lesson plans determining the flow of an instructional period provide time for an individual to reflect? Even further, as we move to a national model where standardized tests are frequently delivered, is there going to be time to think?

Thanks to those who I follow on Twitter, I was inspired to share these thoughts. The real inspiration was located in the resources individuals tweeted out. The tweets shared powerful links, that in their own way, challenges traditional academic structures and the expectations placed on students.

To be brief, do we create an environment where game-changing ideas are nurtured? I find it difficult to think that subtle changes to the system will result in academic environments where creativity and innovation is fostered and learners are compelled to be problem-solvers and pose questions to problems that need to be addressed.

Even while writing, I am reflecting on the two links. One was to a Youtube video about creating a school in three hours. The second was from Thomas Friedman in the form of an opinion piece in the New York Times. If you have a 20-30 minutes, I would suggest watching the video and reading the article. I was left thinking about school and expectations. Yes as an administrator I want students to pass state exams, but I would be more concerned that learners have the chance to think about global issues and possible ways to address problems that plague entire communities. Why not run a class where the course is titled “The Earth Is Full” and support the efforts of teachers and students to spend time engaged in analyzing and discussing pressing matters. This is not to say that classes fail to address relevant material, but it is in bits and pieces as opposed to being the foundation of any course, school or national initiative.

I am afraid that lost amidst testing and common standards is that school can be a place where one can think. The time and support is present for an individual to learn and intellectually prosper.

As always curious to see what others think.