There was another article today on the theme of students and learning that interested me. It was on the website InsideHigherEd.com focusing on the “After-Hours Intellectualism” of students, from a faculty member at a liberal arts college in Vermont who, along with his family, also lives with first year students in a residence hall. You can read the article here.
But this paragraph really stood out to me:
“They are earnest, savvy young people who have effectively played the role that contemporary schooling culture expects them to. They have not been rewarded for taking risks with their learning and, because of this, have never really tried. Instead of being a medium to make sense of their changing lives and aspirations, academic subjects become an obstacle to be overcome in order to get out into the world and focus on what they say they really want to do.”
I think this is true for many of our students. They have learned the game and don’t see a value in taking a risk away from the tried and true, or the “find out what the teacher wants and get an A.” I am concerned about this because I do want students to challenge themselves as we well as stretch themselves creatively – to solve problems.
I am reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken right now, about WWII pilots who crashed in the Pacific and had to stay afloat and alive on the water for an extremely long period of time. I am amazed at the creative powers they developed to stay alive and afloat. It made me think of the post RSA Animates (the video) about finding things to do with paper clips. These guys on a raft in the Pacific had to find new ways to use very common items – to catch fish, beat off sharks, and keep rafts afloat.
The book is an extreme example, but how do we get students to take problem-solving that involves their creativity to new heights in their LEARNING and not just use it from midnight to 3 AM (or whenever they are up and around)?