Someone sent me an article by Marina Gorbis called The Future of Education Eliminates the Classroom, Because the World Is Your Class. Nice to know our family is living in the future – this idea of the world as your classroom has been a foundational principle for many homeschoolers for a long time. Beyond that, I was interested to read the article to examine how others might be catching up with the idea.
It was mostly about how technology is going to create microlearning moments and socialstructured learning – that is, learning that draws from a wide range of materials and is driven by social and internal factors rather than extrinsic rewards such as grades. Again, pretty much what lots of homeschooling and unschooling families have been doing all along.
As for the rest of the world, Gorbis believes that innovative apps, geo-coded information, free and accessible web content, and evolving work and social spaces will be the driving forces for an education revolution. Maybe technologies which offer new possibilities are necessary in order to create massive structural changes in the schools. The good news for homeschooling families (and anyone, really) is that they’re not necessary to pursue integrated, real time, instrinsically rewarding learning opportunities.
How does a homeschooling parent do it? Simple, really. Provide a variety of materials, let your kids choose how to use them, and be available to act as a guide. When you go out into the community to take a walk, participate in a meeting, volunteer at a food pantry, shop for groceries, visit a museum, see a play, or whatever, bring your kids along. Pay attention to what makes them light up, and gently steer them in that direction.
When kids are allowed to pursue learning in this way, which is really the way in which infants, toddlers and young children learn to walk, talk, and understand the world around them, the practice becomes a habit that lasts into adulthood. They become lifelong learners. Now that my youngest kids are teens, there’s little for me to do in terms of educating them, other than engage in spirited discussions, sign forms for their chosen classes and activities, provide occasional transportation, and continue to pay attention and act as a guide. They take care of the rest.
Gorbis describes a new model of education in which resources are plentiful and accessible, learning opportunities are everywhere, and autonomous learners experience learning as a continuous, ever-weaving flow. While new technologies can certainly be a part of this process, they’re not required. All that is needed is the age-old practice of learning from the community and the world. Let your kids take the lead in discovering its riches, and voila – the future of education is yours to enjoy in the present.