“The real driver for creativity is an appetite for discovery and a passion for the work itself. When students are motivated to learn, they naturally acquire the skills they need to get the work done” – Ken Robinson
It was the end of a long, and exciting day at our school. In the Zone was an event designed to provide students and teachers with opportunities to explore ways of learning that will help them develop key skills centred around: creating, innovating, designing, communicating, media literacy and life balance. It was the result of nearly a year of thinking, planning and learning. By all accounts, it was a huge success, and the shared excitement between students and teachers hung palpably in the air as we reached the end of the day . It was at this point that a ninth grade student asked a simple question: “Why can’t school be like this everyday?”
School change is not easy. But a takeaway from that day, is that re-envisioning learning everyday is an attainable goal. We had designed a day to focus on the skills that we know students will need not only for their future, but also for their present. Isn’t this what school should be like everyday?
We didn’t define Science objectives, yet students learned about circuits to build their light boxes. We did not give practice problems, yet students problem-solved as they created video games and designed remote control cars. They communicated their ideas using voice, body and words. We created supportive environments for exploration, risk-taking, creative expression and collaboration, and the learning took care of itself.
Moving on from that day, our faculty have embraced these ideas and worked to incorporate them in and across subject areas. We are currently redesigning our schedule to provide longer blocks for more in-depth learning activities, and time in which students may explore personal learning. We are empowering teachers to abandon outmoded practices and content to make room for more sustained, meaningful learning. We have refined our vision to include a digital presence for each student that will enable them to to develop a personal learning network and share their learning globally.
In The Zone was an amazing and exciting day. Had we let it be just one day, it would have been a memorable event. Yet it has become more than that. The day is now a roadmap that describes what we want learning to look like everyday. We know where we have to go, and our students would like us to get there soon. The difficult question might be, how do we get there? A good starting point, I would suggest, might be to start as George Couros suggests:
“Let’s start asking kids to find problems and give them a sense of purpose in solving something authentic.”
Moreover, let’s listen to the powerful questions our students are asking and act on them.
“Why can’t school be like this everyday?”