Call me crazy, but I’ve always been a fan of traditional forms of schooling, from worksheets to standardized testing. But please, hear out the rest of my blog, because I think that maybe I’ve got some good ideas about education.
At my high school, I believe that a lot of make/hack/play techniques, as introduced by Bud Hunt, were utilized by my teachers. Of course, not every teacher I had was adept at using these techniques effectively, but God love them they tried. In Spanish class, we often played a basketball game where we threw balls into a box and whoever got their ball into the box first got the chance to conjugate a Spanish verb and earn points for their team. Trust me, this was riveting stuff to a class of high school juniors. In most of my English classes, we had the opportunity to write poetry expressing our inner feelings, narratives about pivotal moments in our life, and silly fiction stories of our own creation. In anatomy class, we played a Jeopardy review game that cemented key concepts into our brains. And I mean, my school wasn’t even special or overly well-funded. My school just had teachers that cared.
This is why I have a hard time siding with people who campaign for radical educational reform, like Logan LaPlante. Yes, his form of hack-schooling sounds exciting and innovative, but overall, I think this kind of education propagates the “special snowflake” mindset. I define the special snowflake mindset as when a person believes that they are entitled to something better than what the average person has, even if they didn’t do anything notable to deserve it. I watch a lot of House Hunters, and I see this mindset all the time. People just HAVE to have a gas stove, or tons of counter space, because they do SO MUCH MORE cooking than everyone else. In comparison, my kitchen at home has an electric stove and about three cubic feet of counter space, and no one starved. I think Logan LaPlante’s goal is to make his kind of hack-schooling the standard for education, but the truth is, not everyone has the resources to provide this kind of schooling to their children. I also do not think this form of education is necessary for everyone. I believe that I am happy, healthy, inquisitive, and all of the other adjectives that are supposed to typify a student who is pulled out of regular education in favor of alternative schooling, yet I attended a typical school. I believe that educational reform starts from within a student. Intrinsically motivated students will be successful, whether they attend regular school or are pulled in favor of alternative schooling.
Yes, this looks fun, but it is necessary in education? (Photo CC by Aaron Brown)
Overall, I think that educational reform has already begun. Educational reform does not need to be on a grand scale; educational reform starts with a teacher who has a passion for not only teaching their students how to excel on standardized testing, but also make their students excited about the subject matter. Hack-schooling is an alluring buzz word, but I think it has existed in the classrooms of teachers who care even before the term was coined. I think that both standardized testing and individual interests can coexist in schools, as long as students are willing to put extra time and effort into their education. And just to clarify, I am not bashing alternative schooling. I have friends that were home-schooled, and I think it worked out great for them, but I don’t think that alternative schooling needs to be the basis for traditional education. I have strong faith in the next generation of teachers, and I think that we will be able to encourage student’s personal interests, while still teaching them core concepts, because of our desire to make students care about education.