Thursday, December 04, 2008

Teaching and Learning and Education

One of the great things about being both an educator and a parent is that you get to think about teaching, learning, and education from all kinds of perspectives. As a parent, I'm constantly teaching my children and they are constantly learning (not just from me, of course, but from everything). I also have to interact and react to the educational system my children are a part of. As a college educator, I'm also thinking about teaching and learning within my own classroom, and also about the higher ed system in which that teaching and learning takes place. I've been doing that on multiple fronts this morning as I've been reading the LEAP report and working on a presentation proposal. I also read these two posts by Aspazia that relate to the book I read not too long ago and my continuing work to help my son through the educational system.

For me, education is separate from teaching and learning. Education is a system within which teaching and learning occur. A school is a part of that system and the usual context within which most children get formally educated. What I've been thinking about a lot lately, both as a parent and as an educator, is how formal education interacts so little with the teaching and learning that goes on outside of school. Aspazia points to the deficit system of education where what formal education does is build on what's missing, presumably filling in the gaps of what has not been filled in informally instead of building on a child's strengths. The child must conform to the system rather than the system conforming to the child (a point also made in relation to ADHD both by Aspazia and by Peg Tyre). I'm thinking as a parent about how to help bridge the gap between the way my son is with the way the school wants him to be and at the same time, insure that he's learning. I would also like to find ways to encourage the school to change.

At the college level, with my own students, I'm also seeing a gap between what we do in class and what they do outside of class. So they're exploring Facebook, Wikipedia, and YouTube while we are reading printed articles and books, listening to a lecture on said printouts and occasionally having discussions about that. It would be great to bridge those two worlds, not have one subsume the other (as I think is happening when a CMS is the technology of choice). We need to find a way to help students connect what's happening in the classroom to the world they actually live in. I see the gap between the two widening as people shun Wikipedia or YouTube and cling to a "classic" education. When you can't apply what you're learning in the classroom to your real life, you don't learn.