C uriosity 1Act 1: “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Be Explorers.My story today is about blurring the lines between school and real life, and the story comes in three acts. Each act starts with an Einstein quote and a critical issue facing us as learners and citizens.
Be ExplorersAct 1 of my story really starts with me just wanting to be a good parent and a fun dad – nurturing my sons to be explorers with strong curiosity.
17 yearsI have two sons – Phillip is 8 and Jackson is 5. And I worry that too much of the next 17 years of their lives will be spent in rows and columns of desks – sitting and getting.
#FSBL Father-Son-Based LearningSo we explore together, a lot, and we call it #FSBL – Father Son Based Learning. We scrap book and share our adventures with an email-‐based blog called Posterous.
Often, our adventures begin with MARTA – Atlanta’s public transit system. I drive us to a station, then my boys drive almost every decision from that point forward. As the adventure unfolds, we send our observation journals to Posterous.
“It’s amazing what happens when you simply ask questions... Learning becomes more about asking the right questions rather than retaining the ‘correct’ knowledge.”Two Aprils ago, we ended up spending a couple of hours learning how to operate a construction crane and how to talk to strangers – in real time and on social media.
Observing Questio ningAnd it seems that practicing all of this #FSBL observing, discovering, and questioning is really helping us to think like designers and innovators. Which brings us to Act 2.
Imagination 2Act 2: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Engage Community.Act 2 is really about imagination. It’s about what all of this practice to be explorers caused to happen next.
Do any of you remember that 1970s Tootsie Roll jingle? – “Whatever it is I think I see becomes a Tootsie Roll to me!”
L PB PBLBecause of #FSBL, my sons and I have developed a collaborative imagination habit and a jingle of our own – “Whatever it is I think I see becomes a PBL to me!” We’ve work on a dog park project and a blood project thanks to Jackson needing blood drawn at the hospital.
Engage Community#FSBL helped train me to see #PBL everywhere, and it stretched my imagination about what school could be. I wondered what would happen if we engaged community this way – as school.
Transdisciplinary Community Issues Problem-Solving SynergySo, my teaching and learning partner Jill Gough and I developed Synergy – a transdisciplinary, community-‐issues, problem solving course for 8th graders.
As the backbone of Synergy, we taught our students to observation journal with a group Posterous. Our team of 26 people accumulated about 100 observation journals a week. We created a small army of see-‐ers, dreamers and doers.
How might we...From that collection of observation journals, our team engaged in a variety of projects – like one about the Moore’s Mill area of Nancy Creek that runs through the school campus. Instead of hearing “When will I ever use this?,” we heard a lot more “How might we…?”
Worki ng to be her eSynergy used community issues as curriculum -‐ PBL with a capital P. It engaged a community of learners with their wider community. School was more relevant and purposeful. Which brings us to Act 3.
Hu manity 3Act 3: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Empathize & EmpowerThrough community engagement, our learning became relational and empathic. Sure we were using technology, but using it to network, connect, and act on things that really matter.
Empathize & EmpowerThere were so many great Synergy projects. Two more quick examples. 3 girls focused on whether grafciti is art or vandalism… or both. Four boys interested in the food desert English Avenue hosted a job fair and helped two unemployed adults secure much-‐needed jobs.
By reimagining school, Synergy connected us to an even bigger tribe of empowered explorers empathizing and engaging community – like Emily Pilloton and Project H in Bertie, NC.
How m ight we transform school? Curiosity Imagination Humanity 1 2 3 Be Engage Empathize & Explorers Community EmpowerConclusion.I know the tribe for formal education transformation can grow even bigger – as more of us practice curiosity, imagination, and humanity by practicing these three acts.
lemme see your tootsie roll - I mean, PBL... email email@example.comI hope you’ll give these acts a try. I’ve set up SeePBL.Posterous.com, so you can practice. You can email your observation journals to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can experiment with a PBL research lab. Lemme see your Tootsie Roll – I mean, PBL.