Learning, Schools and a Great Big World

by Beth Knittle on July 13, 2016

For those of you who have been regular readers you know I struggle with traditional schooling and how it confines and limits learning. I have raised two children who were interested in computers, gaming, digital art, ancient languages, ancient arts and mythologies, topics not part of most school curriculum.  A good deal of their learning took place outside of traditional schooling, some times instead of it.  I know schools can’t be all things to all people, nor should they.  But sometimes the ridged adherence to an ever increasing set of standards that everyone must master leaves little room for the creative arts, deeper development of knowledge in a particular field or exploration of areas out side the 4 cores. There is only so much time in the school day, money in a budget, rooms and teachers to meet the standards and core graduation requirements. Though with the advent of the digital literacy and computer science standards in Massachusetts and new ISTE standards for students there is hope that in the future more computer science will be entering the curriculum in every school.

One of the ways I had been able to supplement my children’s education was through Lynda where they could learn the skills they needed, buy lots of books, visit museums, take classes, attend conferences and workshops that fuel their interests.  My dining room table was often the site of many game nights, what I would not have given for a local game cafe.  Learning is a constant process that is not set to a particular time or place, learning is irregular.  There is a great big world out there with lots to learn. There must be a better way to connect the learning that takes place in school, with the learning that takes place outside of school and a way to recognize the learning outside of school as valuable and important. My children were often discouraged by teachers for pursing outside interest as it took away from homework and study time. If they did this they would not have acquired the skills need to apply for the college programs they were interested in and and pursue their dreams.  Schools that do not offer computer sciences, programing, digital arts and media are doing a disservice to their students as they do not prepare them for college and careers in these fields, these are some of the fastest growing job markets in the US. How can schools that are limited in space, time and money support students who wish to pursue these fields? How can student bring their interests into schools to bridge what must be taught with what students want to learn?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nilka Rodgers July 31, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Hi Beth,

I am not very familiar with K-12 education in Massachusetts, and I am surprised that there are not more programs for computer science. You made a great point that computer science and skills are the globally recognized in education and the workforce. Additionally, many students are interested in computers and technology, sometimes before entering school, so one would think that computers and technology would be more prominent in schools.

I went to a CompuTech school in Ohio before transferring to a performing arts school. I was very appreciative for the lessons taught and learned and I am even more appreciative today. I understand wholly what you mean about schools not being able to provide everything, yet I think that some things should be a requirement. Considering that our children become adults and must compete on for jobs globally, the more education we can provide for them the better prepared they will be. I think that the early education intervention you have done with your two children has already given them the confidence and information they need to succeed in life.

I have five children (two sets of twins) and my oldest is school aged and autistic. He reads and writes beautifully, uses verbal communication relatively well, and he loves learning languages, playing the drums, piano, and violin, and playing video games. Our family struggeled this past school year with the advice given to us from his teacher. We know that she meant well, but sometimes we as parents need to provide the learning environment that we think is best for our children’s success.

Best,

Nilka

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