Hack-schooling– Isn’t this already a thing?

  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. 

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  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.

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6 thoughts on “Hack-schooling– Isn’t this already a thing?

  1. I really like how you weren’t afraid to post your true opinion to the topic of hackschooling. It was rare that my teachers ever did any kind of fun activity to keep us engaged in the lesson, it was more like worksheets and note taking with some videos here and there. It was really cookie cutter education. There were days in one of my history classes where we would play jeopardy as a review for tests but that was probably the extent of it. I’m still happy and healthy from the education I received and it has taken me a long ways, but there were days that I really didn’t understand why I had to learn some of that stuff. I think as teachers we need to teach our students why they are learning this material and that it will prepare them for their future. Now, I want to make it clear that by future I mean the life that lays before them, not the job that lays before them. When I am a teacher I want to give my students more control over their education and I want them to have fun with it. I figure if I do it that way, the material will stick with them longer and it will mean more to them.

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    • I agree with you, that I’m just starting to realize why we did some of the stuff that we did in school. It;s kind of an enlightening feeling, but still, I think it would have been helpful to me in school if I had known then. But I also wonder if I wasn’t mature enough to value what my teachers did for me at the time, and that any explanation would have been lost on me. Either way, I think that we, as the next generation of teachers, have such an amazing opportunity to reform the classroom processes, even if we can’t completely overhaul education. I think many of today’s classrooms are stuck in a rut, because of old and unchanging teachers, but I’m exciting to see what we’ll accomplish in our classrooms!

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  2. Sounds like you had a great high school career, I don’t think a lot of people can say they did. I’m hoping you are right that the next generation of teachers are going to be able to teach students in a whole new way. I believe that as teachers we are their for the students, to help them learn anyway that we can possibly help to that. I think being creative in the classroom is such a fantastic thing, it will gets children to believe again that learning is fun.

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    • I did attend a private, Catholic, school, and judging by the disdain some people in this class seem to have for the public school system, I’m wondering is this makes a difference. However, I’m pretty sure the techniques used by my teachers could be used in public schools as well, and I’ll test this out if I get employed in one.

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  3. I guess I would describe most of the activities you write about as “bells and whistles” rather than hacks. The teacher is still in charge, still focusing on content, still requiring that all students do the same things at the same time, but we dress it up in activities we think will be fun and engaging for students as a way to compel them to complete our assignments. I’m interested in a deeper rethinking about the purpose of education and school and how we might make it relevant to all students. That can be a real challenge in teacher education courses because let’s face it, most of us decided to become teachers because we were always good at school! It worked for us. It worked so well for us that we want to spend our lives there! But it doesn’t work for so many students. All we have to do is spend an hour in any public school to see this.

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    • I have a hard time with educational reform, because I did do well in school, and, for the most part, enjoyed it. A lot of the time, I see the kids that didn’t excel in school and the people that complain about the system as not applying themselves enough– I know the amount of work I had to put into school, and I know that this wasn’t matched by my peers (for the most part). And I also think a lot of the activities that teachers had us do, even if they were bells and whistles, contributed to my understanding and ability to remember the material, as I attribute my prowess in some of my college classes to the exemplary jobs my teachers did in making the material stick in our heads. I agree that school needs to be reformed to be made more available to all students, but I also think that some students need to reform themselves. No matter how hard we work to reform education, there will still be students that refuse to apply themselves to their education, because they will find the curriculum “pointless” or “stupid”– the reaction that a lot of my classmates had when a teacher tried to do something a little out of the box. No matter how genius future education reforms are, we cannot spoon feed them to students who are not willing to apply themselves to school.

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