Recently an article was being shared in education and social media circles called “Why I let my students cheat on an exam”, by UCLA Behavioral Ecology professor Peter Nonacs.
This prof cleverly decided to allow students to live the concepts of animal behaviour and game theory by working through tough problems TOGETHER, in a real-life game theory situation, rather than by memorizing and (superficially) applying key concepts. He explains:
On a recent visit to the reputed Rishi Valley school in rural Andhra Pradesh, India (past posts on the philosophy of Rishi Valley here, and here) two friends and I had the chance to visit a rural school operated by Rishi Valley, under the banner “RIVER” (Rishi Valley Institute for Educational Resources).
This one room schoolhouse typically housed kids aged 4 to 10, one main teacher, and one assistant. Students sat on the floor, with large square work tables a foot or so off the ground.
I am (re-)launching this blog to explore alternative models of schooling, and frankly to force myself to keep up with my own dreams!
I have now observed and taught in classrooms where schooling is still more focused on the intellect than on a holistic approach to learning that integrates subjects, along with other important dimensions (the emotional, social, physical, spiritual), that I know have contributed towards my own happiness.
On a practical level, our mainstream models of schooling just aren't as effective as they could be. Everything from rote memorization to a lack of responsibility for learning on the part of students; talking heads at the front of classrooms, and poor measures of success (standardized testing) are still rampant. On the flip side (pun intended :)), approaches such as the flipped classroom, and tools such as the Khan Academy have garnered a lot of support, and older models of Gurukuls and visions of schools in nature keep me dreaming!
I don't think everything with our education system is "wrong"; it is also important to acknowledge the strengths and improvements in current models, which I will continue to explore.
So, the re-launch of my blog is as much about planting seeds for my own learning in this space as it is about sharing and connecting with some of you. Some of these ideas have been around for centuries. Some are more innovative. Either way, for me, the time for these ideas is NOW.
To start, an excellent overview of various models and philosophies of education is given by Ron Miller, and gives useful context for the 'alternative' education space. The holistic approach really resonates with me but the others have elements I like too. Feel free to share your thoughts - and thanks for joining me!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!