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Student,

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On bringing on a learning revolution, where would you cut the line in terms of basic education (e.g. Language, Maths) for the student?

How might the learning revolution cater for the children that seem to have a passion about a certain field or are skilled at a certain task, while at the same time giving the children their basic education (e.g. in terms of Language and Maths) for them to be able to be administer their own life's without destroying their divergent thinking in this process?

Bottom line: Where do you cut the line in terms of basic education?

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    Mar 1 2011: Khaled,
    In my world, child autonomy and fun are key elements. Success is measured mainly qualitatively (passion, engagement, curiosity, initiative, expression, interest). If we place no artificial limits on young learners -- ditch grade-level thinking and assume children can learn anything, we build life-long learners.

    Here are some specific examples:

    Embrace child-chosen projects that incorporate design, engineering, math, writing, reading, art, etc. For example, children build Rube Goldberg contraptions and learn multiple subjects through documenting the process using video, photos and blogs, learning and understanding physics principles, applying creative thinking, learning and applying research methods and citations styles, etc.

    Write about everything, but let children choose! Introduce grammar, spelling, vocabulary, style lessons as part of writing (not outside of it). If the child's fictional story has a scene in France, child learns French so as to incorporate french dialogue) Use online courses for foreign language learning, such as Carnegie Mellon's OLI, BBC, and K12.com.

    Learners read aloud and quietly every day (books of child's choosing). Discuss/review literary elements, theme, character development, historical, linguistic, and spelling and vocabulary afterwards. Do comparative literature analysis discussions on child's favorite lit. but make it relevant to the child!

    Learn basic math, statistics & algebra all at the same time and as needed in project-based learning (electronic circuit design and analysis,statistics and graphing through data-gathering experiments). Supplement with material that focuses on applied math --patterns and thinking vs. drill and kill. Practice basics when needed, but not to the exclusion of all else.

    Children choose/read aloud articles from the Wall Street Journal every day & discuss. Global business is important. Don't assume 8-year olds aren't interested!

    Encourage diversity

    Let children choose fave TEDTalks
    • Mar 2 2011: Hi,

      Thank you very much for your response. How do you think this could be set up as a public service?

      I am thinking of opening schools up in a way to allow children to see a great deal of fields and allow them to decide for themselves what they want to learn. If for example they choose to start with Physics they will of course realise that along the way they will need to learn some Mathematics to continue, causing them to join a Mathematics class and learn some of its concepts to continue with Physics and then discover other holes in their knowledge only to be solved by taking other classes (or attend some lessons of it, relevant to their topic) and so on...

      Since I myself am a student at the moment I can easily relate to your saying about the placing of artificial limits. If I read something that interests me myself, of course voluntarily, I find it much easier to remember and understand, whereas I find it more difficult to learn something that I know I am required to learn, even if it is part of my interest.

      As you probably already know, the concept you and I have just described is called Organic Learning (http://www.organiclearning.org), now I would like to ask you if you have encountered any peer-reviewed studies about the effectiveness of this type of learning, since of course anecdotal evidence is not sufficient to convince most minds out there.

      Thank you,

      Khaled
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        Mar 2 2011: Khaled,

        The very act of separating math classes from physics classes defeats the purpose of what I call whole learning and what you call organic learning. It is difficult to imagine how current schools could accomplish this task, which is why many, including Sir Ken Robinson, call for a learning revolution. If you reimagined learning and how to make it work for larger groups of children, you might not have a school at all. What you might have is a community center filled with technology, mentors, facilitators, subject experts (like college professors) and children in small groups working on projects of their choosing. The community center would have music rooms, a community garden, and a workshop where children work with facilitators to design, build, create, write, compose, research, etc. No desks, no teachers, no grades.
        It is difficult to measure this type of learning based on existing quantitative standards as the measures of success are much more qualitative. I disagree that peer-reviewed studies are necessary. At some point, enough parents and rebel educators will reinvent the system. In fact, some already are. Have you heard about BrightWorks school?
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    Mar 1 2011: Gina, it appears that our worlds are very similar!

    Years, centuries, generations of invention and planning, may have gone to the development of the performances and occupations of the adults surrounding the child. Yet for him their activities are direct stimuli; they are part of his natural environment; they are carried on in his physical terms that appeal to his eye, ear, and touch. He cannot, of course, appropriate their meaning directly through his senses; but they furnish stimuli to which he responds, so that his attention is focused upon a higher order of materials and of problems. Were it not for this process by which the achievements of one generation form the stimuli that direct the activities of the next, the story of civilization would be writ in water, and each generation would have laboriously to make for itself, if it could, its way out of savagery. - John Dewey
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    Mar 2 2011: Khaled, why must there be lines to cut?