Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Born to learn and overschooled but undereducated

Last week, one of the DTLT students from Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), introduced the CPIT adult education team to the website – born to learn
The site summaries a book ‘ Overschooled but under educated: How the crisis in education is jeopardizing our adolescents by John Abbott and Heather MacTaggart (links to videos with John on learning in the early years and Heather on why education needs to change) .  Google books preview of parts of the first 4 chapters available.
The main premise of the book, build from a synthesis of contemporary research in neurobiology, cognitive psychology etc. is that humans are ‘born to learn, not born to be taught’. Therefore, schools have to encourage self-directed learning, personalised individual learning plans, foster the use of mentors and provide the opportunity for teenagers to practice at becoming better learners.

Of interest is the one of the authors’ experiences as a teacher chaperoning a group of senior high school students on a field trip to North Africa. The headman of the village tells the teacher that unlike the village kids, who at a similar age are already contributing to their family’s and community’s well-being and productivity, the kids from Western societies are still dependent on their family and are unable to accomplish even the simplest of domestic/agricultural tasks.

Also, there is a reflection in the first chapters of the book on the role of apprenticeships in helping the younger generation find meaning and status in life, and the role of adult mentors in providing young people with structure and challenge. Schools have taken the ‘factory model’ too far, dampening the natural instincts of their students by imposing a lock-step, one-size-fits all model. The current needs of humankind require more of schools including the need to prepare young people to face the big challenges like environmental degradation, globalisation, peak oil etc.

In all, not a new message, as evidenced by many other commentators, Sir Ken Robinson, John Seely BrownMarc Prensky, dana boyd, Michael Wesch to name but a few well-known internationally, and locally in New Zealand we have Stuart Middleton and  Derek Wenmouth)  

The website has packaged the message into an easy to understand  and accessible medium for parents, teachers and policy makers.


Blake Boles said...

There are so many books out there that criticize K-12 & higher ed (often rightly) but hardly any that provide concrete guidance for young adults living without school. That's where I'm trying to help.

Selena said...

Hi Blake,

thank you for sharing your site. Another alternative to school/college I advocate is apprenticeship. I have been privileged, over 30 years as a vocational educator, to follow troubled boys as they transition from apprentice to become steadfast young men and later successful entrepreneurs.
Therefore, there are many pathways to a fulfilling life beyond school.

All the best with your work, Selena

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