Just the other day one of my undergraduate assistants reported a friend's boast that he had not read anything for school since fifth grade. A student at an excellent university, successful, "clever," "smart," he can write papers, take exams, participate in class or online discussions. Why would he have to read?
Students sometimes don't buy the class books. Professors are shocked.
Several years ago a student told me that she regarded all assigned reading as "recommended," even if the professors labeled it "required." Were professors so dumb that they didn't know that?
Read here or on Huffington Post:
The Proceedings of a conference, Learning In and Out of School: Education Across the Globe, held at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies on May 22-23, 2012, are now available!
This is envisioned as a contribution to broadening the scholarly but also the public conversation about the nature of learning and its relationship to the formal institutions we know as schools. In that sense, posting proceedings is a necessary offering.
We—anthropologists, psychologists, human development and education scholars from as far as Korea and Alaska—met for two full days during a gorgeous spring week just following graduation, with flowers and warmth and the peace of an academic year just completed. We ate wonderful food throughout the day and night, and had many informal conversations along with the formal proceedings. As convener, I aimed to implement my best understanding of how people learn and how they interact by structuring the conference with no papers delivered. This is somewhat like “flipping the classroom”: the independent preliminary work that could be done in advance was done in advance—writing and reading papers and preparing comments on others’ work—and the precious face-to-face time was used for what could only be done that way: discussing, asking, brainstorming, and laughing together.
I found out by accident. One of my students had a job staffing a reception desk. They talk about my class--but don't even bother to let me know. When the students are buzzing with interest in the subject, when they don’t even tell the teacher about their out-of-class conversations—this is worth every moment.
Read it on Huffington Post, or here
Over Thanksgiving weekend, my college-student daughter started singing. She knew, and claimed that her friends knew, hundreds of songs. My father, a pediatrician, asked what he thought was a rhetorical question, “Why do kids know the words to every song but they can’t memorize something for a test that will get them a higher grade?”
This is, actually, a real question.
Also on Huffington Post
In an exasperated Facebook post, one of my young friends complained about her first-semester college class. “Don’t you hate it when you raise your hand and know the answer and your teacher doesn’t call on you?” I replied, know-it-all professor and adult that I am: Isn’t it about what you’re learning?
And she replied, “No, it’s because you have to answer questions a certain number of times to get points.”
The point of learning is to get the points.
At my department’s semi-annual retreat, we had another round of discussion about Friday classes. There are good reasons to have them and good reasons to avoid them. Each reason reveals a different, and compelling interest, on the part of various constituencies. But there is no way to adjudicate them, because they stem from fundamentally different goals.
My visit to the American Automobile Association (AAA) office to renew our membership on the eve of helping my college-graduate daughter move out of state brought a lot of information—about the loquacious employee’s life and family. But the memorable core was about her school-challenged son’s effortless passing of his driver’s license examination.
Observe how kids learn to throw balls, or to jump rope, or to play chords on the guitar, or to speak a new language if they move to a new place.
All of it happens with others, in activities that involve what we could call the social mind-body.
And compare that to school.