Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Student-based Education and Project-based Learning

How do you fit a round peg into a square hole?

For many teachers, that is the basic challenge of education.

The traditional classroom is the square peg--and I mean the classroom--the desks and the chalkboard/whiteboard at the front. Students don't want to sit and receive; they want to do-- to be actively engaged in their education.

Consciousness-Based Education lists five Fundamentals of Education:
  • Receptivity
  • Intelligence
  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Expression
Note that the first is receptivity. If the student isn't ready or interested, good luck, teacher.

At Maharishi School, where students and faculty practice the Transcendental Meditation technique, there is the advantage of less student stress, more curiosity, and greater creativity.

Even with the TM advantage, a school still has to center education around the student. This is a continuing challenge and inspiration for all educators.

One educator who has addressed this challenge is Ron Berger in his book An Ethic of Excellence.

And how many of the students have a smart phone or iPod in their pockets or backpacks?

How many students are used to learning in a highly self-organized manner and then are asked in school to learn in a lock-step manner that differs from their learning by choice?

And then one more point: how many students, given their maturity level, simply say, "I don't want to learn that," even if the that is some essential component of learning.

Welcome to the life of an educator.

Dr. William Glasser said that if students don't want to learn, we can't teach them. They should be allowed to leave the classroom and come back with their friends when they are ready.

How does this fit in, though, with the pressures of standardized testing? Even when teachers are compelled to teach for the test, students are under no obligation to learn for the test, especially students in their early years. They're just kids, after all.

Below is a video that illustrates (literally) the dilemma faced by educators.

I keep coming back to the Fundamentals of Education and how Consciousness-Based Education is structured at Maharishi School and Maharishi University of Management.
  • Enliven the mind through TM and by structuring a creative, rigorous class environment so that the child is receptive to learning something new. 
  • Facilitate the interaction of the intelligence of the students . . .  
  • . . . with the content knowledge. 
  • Provide the experience of being actively engaged in the subject matter--that means creatively using the knowledge. 
  • Complete the learning experience with an authentic expression of the students' learning, a demonstration of their mastery of the content and skills being learned.
Receptivity     Intelligence     Knowledge     Experience     Expression

Copyright 2011 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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