At our local pool they recently put in a new play area. There’s a large bucket with a stream of water pouring into it, and every 15 minutes or so it reaches the tipping point, where it will flip and drench all the screaming, playing children underneath. Okay. Now hold onto that visual.
I’m at an ISTE Unplugged event today, Hack Education 2015, and learning a lot from some fabulous educators. But in the 90 minutes that I’ve been here, I’ve heard three separate conversations about how much more engaged students are when they do “x” than what they are usually doing, which is “y”. I’m so glad that we are taking steps toward improving student engagement in schools. I’m super pumped that the pockets of awesome are expanding. But at what point do we say “Self? We’ve got an issue here. Instead of using x as the fun engaging break from our “usual” learning, how about combining x and y – or transitioning to x…” And then you’ll think, “Wow self, that’s really insightful.” Kids love learning during genius hour? How do we incorporate those components of student driven learning into the other 80% of the day? Students are flocking to the maker space? Awesome! Keep pushing – how do you bring those design elements to your core classes?
Why do we continue to stick student agency, student choice, deep learning, hands-on, and engaging work in their own separate box that we do in isolation? And if our rockstar status teachers are still doing this in chunks and isolation, what will be done in our less innovative classrooms? When will we reach critical mass – when will we find the tipping point in education? Okay, go back to that original visual from the beginning of the post. How long will it take to fill the bucket enough that the whole thing tips and we flood our educational system with awesomeness and innovation? Sure, some teachers will run screaming because they don’t want to get wet. A few teachers will look up surprised, because they didn’t see it coming. But many teachers are anxiously awaiting the flood gates to open so they can jump in with the rest. Many people are excited that the bucket is tipping and they’ll laugh and splash and play with those that filled the bucket in the first place.