Arooj Ahmad in the article “A 15-year-old student’s ed reform plan: Self-directed learning” pens an idea that we should be discussing with students probably more so than with teachers:
Learning should be messy! Divergent thinking can be taught. Teachers, administrators, policy makers, and even students will have to step out of their comfort zones to remove the standardized, short-term mentality about learning. … Students shouldn’t learn material just for the sake of passing the test. They should learn for the sake of learning. Students should enjoy going to school. The practical solution to accomplish this lies in two key improvements that must take hold in today’s education system: relevant, holistic curricula and freedom of subject choice.
Yes, you heard me correctly. We should be talking about this with students.
The human capacity to adapt to one’s environment is most amazing and it is so clearly seen with high school students. When they learn to play the game, change is difficult and resistance to learning beyond the test becomes a reality.
The ideas proposed by Ahmad (PBL, collaboration, real-world, personal & self-direct learning, etc) are significant changes for students and I’ve seen first hand the challenge this presents. In fact, I’d argue that the resistance often levied at teachers is greater with students and perhaps the reason some teacher resist in the first place.
So how do we help students embrace this change? How do we help them to become allies and not resistors? Because just asking these questions in terms of teachers isn’t enough if we want sustainable organizational change.