The nature of learning – fast and slow

It struck me early this morning how there is a fundamental tension built right into teaching and learning. These two elements are in constant tension within our students as we approach every period of the day and every term in their growth.

On one hand, it is awesome how quickly our students can learn.

Just the right tiny bit of instruction can make a huge impact. Showing an example and letting them loose (with creativity and brainstorming skills already in hand) – it can be amazing. The right alchemy of interest, possibility, supplies, and work time has the power to be transformational.

The flip side is how distracted and/or impatient a kid can be. A few minutes of focus can be incredible… but those few minutes have to cut through the noise and chaos in their heads. Habits, beliefs, memories, hormones, and all the social thoughts are all flying through their heads.

I imagine that it is like this to some of our students:

It is impossible to make intentional choices when battered by everything incoming at such a high rate.

I’m learning to feel empathy and adjust for these situations.

Back to that perfect alchemy. Creating this for a small group would be one thing. When I have 170+ students walking in every day, the complexity goes way up.

The maker opportunity has to be so many things:

  • fast and clear enough to cut through the fog
  • interesting to the student
  • impressive and customizable
  • extendable for the kids who finish fast
  • fast ways to catch a student up
  • simple, if need be
  • seriously cheap
  • no complex tools
  • easy to store (just try getting 170 projects stored in a classroom, so their owners – who are children – can find them themselves)
  • teaching deeper lessons about making, creativity, possibilities
  • leading to the next project, which needs its own supports for the full range of student abilities
  • fun

And that last one is its own challenge.

The crazy thing about all of this is that it is possible. It’s happening.

A new vision for education

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