Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Learning - forget about subjects

At Danfoss Universe we’re coordinating a research project trying to create a learning environment for the future. Great project, good people on board and lots of enlightning discussions.
Here's one observation from there:
In a traditional school subjects are kept separate. The schedule shows it clearly: math, language, biology, history, physics etc. But this kind of compartmentalization is probably somewhat counter productive.
In many cases it would make more sense organizing learning around a different structure.
An example would be to use a narrative as a starting point, weaving aspects of many different subjects into the project.
Starting with the narrative makes it much easier to engage the learner through the usual narrative elements that drive a story forward. It also makes it easier to show how things are connected, and how what you learn can be applied in some situation.
If you have kids you have probably observed how engaged they become when the regular schedule is abandoned for a week or so to work on a particular theme or project.
Cross disciplinary projects, with elements of a narrative, connecting to everyday experiences and observations, demanding the learner to explore, structure, build and present – it makes sense not just for pedagogical purposes, but also because it is a reflection of what reality is actually like. These are the skills we will need – rather than merely reproducing what you are being told in a one-way transfer of facts from teacher to student.

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