ESSENTIAL QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN SHIFTING CONTENT FROM “WHAT” TO “WHERE” AND “HOW”?
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)
I think PBL or design thinking can provide the basis for this type of transferable knowledge. Wolpert-Gawron (2015) talks about an integrated 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). Quirky.com was mentioned by Wolpert-Gawron (2015) as a way to connect student inventions to others interested allowing for collaboration and improvement. This can really help students to find ideas or to get help from others in making their idea better. This allows them to see that others care about what they are doing. It provides a human connection where a worksheet would not provide this.
Another way to encourage this type of transferable knowledge is to incorporate student interest. "Children and teens produce volumes of content through social media, such as YouTube, podcasts, Minecraft, and Twitch. Some earn money in the process. For their passions, these youths generate a following and join others as they establish and extend social networks. When these same content authors and entrepreneurs enter schools, all that they know and can produce is set aside. Yet when they leave school, they collect skills left outside and reconnect with their real-world networks" (McCarthy, 2015). So much talent is wasted when we don't allow students to show us what they know and to maybe even let them teach us. Teachers can learn just as much as students if we allow ourselves to not feel like we have to be the bearer of all of the knowledge.
We need to show students how to think, not just teach them facts. "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). The information is out there and we can access it at our fingertips. McCarthy (2015) gives a quote from her 5th grade son that sums up why students need to have access to lessons that allow them to interact with a world outside of the school walls. Her son says "Why do they (teachers) keep talking about the real world out there? This is my real world."
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
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