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The CGC Blog

A drink from a firehose

Living the learner experience...

By Kevin Bartlett, Founding Director of the CGC

I recently participated in a constructive conversation about the benefits of putting some 'breathing space' between consecutive meetings for adults, to allow a little processing and prepping time. Seemed like a perfectly sensible idea, and still does.

Now let's transfer that idea to the lived experience of our secondary students. Effectively, depending on schedules, they may go to up to eight 'meetings' a day, with barely time to get themselves from one to the next. In those meetings, again depending on the predominant pedagogy in the school, they are probably bombarded with a flood of new information. 

Even though we know that we learn by making connections, we have generally done such a poor job at creating a connected curriculum that the chances of the student connecting the new information to prior knowledge are remote . . . especially as few of us directly and consistently teach students how to process information, how to learn how to learn, in the first place. (Worth checking out Leo Thompson's recent post on this point).

That's it, year after year. Then, despite knowing that every student is different, we evaluate them by sticking the same exams under their noses and judging their progress, and ours, by a set of questionable grades.

Having re-read this, of course it sounds harsh . . . or perhaps, in the immortal words of Monty Python . . . 'cruel but fair'.

Easy to be critical . . . harder to fix things. I know this may sound self-serving, but I can only say that, within the CGC, we are trying to create Learning Ecosystems that offer continuous, connected experiences through inquiries into ideas that matter, with space for student voice and choice. We're reducing content and increasing engagement. We're working with our friend, Jay McTighe, on A Balanced Assessment System . . . personalized, evidence-based, qualitative options to complement our current testing culture. This post is not to promote anything, rather out of empathy for many of the kids in our care.

Information without relationships is never knowledge”. - Michael Fullan.