"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Meaning and Learning

I was checking out TED.org again and found another great talk.  The speaker is a teacher from Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  Her style of teaching is to give kids a project and let them go.  I've moved more toward this model the longer I've homeschooled my kids.  This summer is full of project based learning, as next year will be, too.  Here's her talk:

Diana Laufenberg:  How to Learn? From Mistakes

One example of  what we're doing here this summer is a project based learning experience with lasers.  The kids will be given a mission "to protect valuable relics from being stolen."  They will learn about lasers and then design and build a laser security system.  I can't wait to do it.  I'd written my own laser class in the past, but it lacked an element of true meaning for the kids.  Sure, it was fun, but this give them a real purpose and show a real application of a technology they have only perhaps toyed with or dreamed about in the past.  They will have their hands on lasers, optics and sensors and produce a real, tangible working system.   I came across this at TeachEngineering.org  which is a fabulous site full of Science and Engineering curriculum from a wide range of grades.

My big take-away from co-schooling with so many other kids this year is the importance of "meaning" for kids, especially middle-school kids, in doing school work.  They want to see that they can accomplish something, that they can do something that has meaning.  How exciting is it to actually learn about something like lasers, then actually put them to a real, good use?  I'll be looking for more classes to do next year, with the help of the other moms and kids with whom we co-school.  I'll keep you posted on what I find.

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