It seems it's only during senior year that students are asked what they want from their education and how well prepared they feel about the next steps in their learning journey. Even at graduation, guest speakers offer advice and their truths, gospels according to their triumphs and stumbles. Yet, aside from the usual suspect questions - "Where do you want to go to college, and what do you want to do after college?", few conversations are initiated where students get to really speak their mind. So I asked how they experience school (traditional and home school) and learning in their lives, and about our role in preparing them for the future?
Today’s students perceive their education with enthusiasm, suspicious eyes and a deep wish to put their learning to productive practice. On the one hand, students are motivated to learn - they inhabit a world with resources at a fingertip tap away. Technology, art and science is at a peak; innovation is the norm, not the exception. Students enter school with enthusiasm, open minds and inquisitive natures. Their disappointment arrives after they enter school or begin homeschooling and they experience, unfortunately far too often, their questions left unanswered and/or dismissed, their excitement squashed and their high expectations, and aspirations lowered by standards and practices that focus solely on scores and memorized content.
This disconnection between knowledge, understanding and assessment leads to suspicious eyes - a doubtful look upon their teachers, the value and purpose of a good education. “Why am I here?”, they wonder and “What am I to do with all this information?” Students yearn for opportunities to put their learning into practice. In an environment like a Little School home, students will continually be exposed to project-based community-relevant learning engagements. Students also yearn for self and peer-reflective activities and assessments that will celebrate their strengths, compassionately identify their areas of improvement and provide a valid sense of accomplishment and earned confidence. In designing a curriculum that is concept-based, project-based and character-reflective, students naturally make authentic links between their learning and constructive application. In doing so, they take ownership over their learning, development and career prospects.