Digging Post Holes

CC image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/adulau/

Education is no longer a one way conversation.  Gone are the days where the teacher stands in front and downloads (in an authoritarian manner) the information for the students to regurgitate back. Go into any classroom where the teacher is dominating the interaction, and you will find the students are unengaged. Students have to be involved in such a way that they at least direct the experience in some part.  After all you don’t find meaning by listening to someone else, you make meaning by doing. One of my fears as we move to create a more uniform national curriculum is that we will be even more concerned with “covering” the prescribed material than we are now.  What we are asked to emphasize to students at every level is becoming so broad that there is little hope that we are creating the deep understanding our students really need to experience.  It is more efficient for the teacher to guide students through information, but learning and efficient are not necessarily synonymous.  An old rancher once told me as I was fixing fence “Dave, the spacing of the barb wire sure is pretty, but your fencing ain’t worth a plug nickel.”  Then he proceeded to knock my fence down by hitting one post really hard with the sledge.  “Dig your post holes deeper!” he said, as he walked away.  The wisdom of the ranch hand really applies to what we are doing in education today.  If we do not take the time to have the students experience a deeper understanding of concepts and build skills they will use for a lifetime, their education experience will be as flimsy as the fence that was knocked down.  No matter what the standards say, our students have to learn to:

  1. Collect and analyze information
  2. Organize
  3. Connect with others
  4. Share
  5. Collaborate
  6. Edit
  7. Publish
  8. Think Critically
  9. Practice Digital Citizenship

These are the “fence posts” that must hold up the learning experience for students today.  No time is wasted if we are challenging each student to do each of the above at a level which is appropriate.

2 thoughts on “Digging Post Holes

  1. Pingback: One Farmer’s Understanding of Formative Assessment? | Esmé Comfort CRPS Trustee

  2. Enjoyed the post and your analogy. Over the years I have been a strong proponent of activity based learning, and I think that having worked in an elementary school that was more easily attained. I wasn’t sure how it would work at the secondary school, but now being retired, yet still going in to work as an “on call” principal, I have had some new experiences in secondary schools and had an opportunity to observe there. Today was a good example seeing a class of grade 10 students studying Canadian geography and working in small groups, creating big charts like we sometimes do at our admin meetings, then posting the charts, circulating to read others data, make notes, and comments. I realize that is only one class, but the students were engaged with themselves and their teacher. The posts were a bit deeper in this class.

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