ESSENTIAL QUESTION: What is your philosophy of adaptation?
I am a science teacher, and I teach evolution and change every year to my biology students. I believe the classroom is not exempt from the same evolution and change that I teach my students about, because we learn that humans have evolved and are still evolving. We learn that evolution really just means change. If we are changing, then it only follows that education should change with us. Change is inevitable, and we must be ready to explore alternative ways to doing things. "Traditional approaches to learning are no longer capable of coping with a constantly changing world. They have yet to find a balance between the structure that educational institutions provide and the freedom afforded by the new media’s almost unlimited resources, without losing a sense of purpose and direction" (Thomas & Brown, 2011). Learning is less about rote memorization and more about making meaning out what we are learning in relation to the world. In this day and age I don't think we can live in a world that just asks "what", or in other words students are just learning facts. Everyone needs to make connections and understand how things are related. We need to fit our knowledge into our own niche of the world. That is where we can accomplish so much. We attach meaning, and this meaning is transferable to life outside of the classroom walls. (McCarthy, 2015). Put another way, "In the new information economy, expertise is less about having a stockpile of information or facts at one’s disposal and increasingly about knowing how to find and evaluate information on a given topic" (Thomas & Brown, 2011).
I take most of my teaching practices from connectivism, constructivism, and constructionism. I believe these pedagogies are being focused more today. We are an evolving society and the push in education is for project based learning or design thinking in classrooms because they support a way that our students are able to learn. These types of learning activities really fit with the pedagogies above. As far a PBL goes, Wolpert-Gawron (2015) talks about an integrated PBL unit she has taught where "there are many components to the unit: brainstorming, research, development, design, cost analysis, collaboration, and pitching. They are using art, writing, math, science, and probably countless other elements that focus on real-world content and communication." These types of units combine so much and really get students to see how all subjects are connected. We are accessing the "where" and "how" instead of only accessing the "what". Students also are learning by doing and "learning by doing can provide a unique and personal set of insights into the ways and means for creating something in the world" (Thomas & Brown, 2011). Students learn that education is related to the world and that all disciplines combine. The real world is not separate. I believe this is a crucial understanding because many times in science class I get a student who will say this is science not math. Students believe each content area is separate and this creates a divide when students enter a world outside school. We need to prepare students with tasks that replicate life outside of school. Design-thinking offers similar benefits to PBL where students are connecting what they are learning to some outside factor.
Some schools have even fully embraced the PBL or design thinking model throughout their school structure. For example, High Tech High, a charter school in the U.S., works from the ground up. In other words they work with teachers, parents, and students to create change rather than starting with administration. "There are no bells, class periods, or single subjects. Subjects are integrated. Teachers are hired on one-year contracts, with the payoff of being able to teach whatever they want to teach. And over and over again, we see and hear that one of the great things about this place is how teachers teach to their passions and, with their students, are the designers." Their test scores are 10% above the state average and they have a 98% college entrance rate (Phillips, 2015). I believe schools need to listen to students and find ways to focus on them. Too many adults are making decisions, but we would not have schools without students.
McCarthy, J. (2015, September 09). Student-Centered Learning: It Starts With the Teacher. Retrieved February 25, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-centered-learning-starts-with-teacher-john-mccarthy
Phillips, M. (2015, December 17). The Problems and Promise of Educational Change. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/problems-promise-educational-change-mark-phillips
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change [Kindle].
Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2015, March 03). Collaboration: Key to Innovation. Retrieved February 25, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/collaboration-key-innovation-heather-wolpert-gawron