Whoops, time got away from me this week. So, I won’t be doing justice to this week’s content. I listened to the interview but didn’t really delve into the reading.
The speaker this week rubbed me the wrong way, which always makes it a bit harder to get something out of a talk. Or makes what you get out of it different in any case. He struck me as elitist and arrogant at various points because of how dismissive he was of what has been and what continues now. I don’t think the current educational system is perfect, and I could even see the need for a dramatic change or overhaul, but I wouldn’t consider it a disaster that doesn’t achieve anything good. However, I also find myself seeing the need for radical points of view to get discussion started. My younger cousin is much more of a political idealist than I am, for example, and talking to her has had me reflecting on the need to always have that young, radical voice in the conversation (says the 28 year old).
One thing that did stick out to me and resonated with me was the idea of student motivation. If students were left to learn more organically, let’s say, and allowed to step away from our current educational structures, the point was made in the interview that, well, students wouldn’t learn anything because they wouldn’t be motivated. I’ve often thought about motivation when I teach because information literacy is boring. I’m also not grading anything, so I’m almost as bad as a substitute teacher in terms of my authority in the classroom. I make various attempts to inspire motivation to learn information literacy, and it’s something I continue to mull over.
Motivation to gain education brings to mind the documentary Half the Sky and its pair A Path Appears. Both of these documentaries are about the plight of women in third world countries, and one of the main emphases of them is that education is a way out. But it’s a way out many of the women can’t access for one reason or another. What always strikes me about any film that highlights education in a third world country is the motivation difference. I would not want to overstate it. But the documentaries at least present the young women who have access to an education as highly motivated. My point is that it’s relative. K-12 education is a given in the US, which is wonderful, but also brings about the problem of student motivation. Students in K-12 don’t necessarily have a sense of what a gift education is, and it’s not something that can be forced. I supposed student-centered learning has been an attempt to bring about the motivation that is missing. We try to make the education more relevant to the current situations and needs of the students.
I like the idea of students negotiating a learning journey like most of us do after we finish school, motivated by our real life needs. But I don’t know what that would look like or how you work that out practically with them.