Standardization Without Standardization

Structure that defines the common end goal, but not the path to be taken.

Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy
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Kids are born with curiosity. This is what nature has given them to get through life. This makes them not only more creative but also enables them to question the obvious in brilliant ways. Curiosity includes failure as a big part of the equation. All of us learn't that fire burns not because someone told us so but because we experienced it and burnt our hand. It is not the success of not getting our hand burnt that taught what fire was but the failure of not listening. That taught us two things – one that fire burns and is hot and two to listen to our parents.


I believe that by invoking this curiosity in kids, we are using the force that kids have to help them learn anything in life including education. Every child has different things that interest them. I think any good coach understands this and gets the same desired result in a way that appeals to the child. My 5 year old son, the other day complained about school being too boring. When I asked him what he wanted to become – he swiftly said – Iron Man. And like any smart dad I replied – that is why you should be going to school, so you can learn to be one.

I then asked him if he wanted to know how iron man learn't how to fly. On his Yes - we then made a paper plane with an old newspaper. He took one glace at the plane in the air and said – this has no fire coming out. I said Yes! – that is a great question and this is why we should go to school so you can learn how to search and seek answers. 

He quickly responded – But they do not teach that in school.

This got me to think – What would happen if we taught all the children in a way they wanted to learn? I think this way they will be able to learn a lot more things and school would serve its purpose of being a place of inspiring learning. Is it possible? Yes! I think so.

Problem/Situation: Iron man needs to go to Afghanistan to save people from the Taliban.
Geography Questions - Where is Afghanistan on the map? How do you get there? What language do they speak there? What is the distance from US to Afghanistan?
History Questions – Who are the Taliban? How did they come to being?
Math Questions – How much time do you think it will take for Iron man to get there if you can fly at 500 km’s per hour?
English Questions? – Is Afghanistan a noun or a pronoun? Some of the new words learnt and their meaning – Taliban, distance, being, etc.
The way I see it, it is not that difficult, if we say we have a simple goal, learn 2 things each in each subject. Yes it does seem challenging initially to think this way.

I also do have a daughter who is 3 and into princesses like any other girl – Let me take a stab at it.

Problem/Situation: Princess needs to go to the London to meet the queen.
Geography Questions: Where is London? What is difference between United Kingdom and England?
History Questions: How does England have a queen?
Math Questions: How many horses are there on the queen’s chariot?
English Question: spell – Queen, Horse,
Art – London Bridge is falling down Rhyme.

Wouldn't this make school more interesting?

If only we had a flexible structure with a defined goal, but also one that allows the students to choose their one path. This I believe would make learning easier and allow innovation. It is what design thinking allows. What is the goal here? A goal that asks the question "How might we create rituals and routines that establish a culture of innovation in our classrooms and schools?" It does not however dictate the path. 

Simple as it seems, but curriculum (structure) has not allowed for innovation because of it being very rigid. I therefore propose a structure that defines the common end goal, but not the path to be taken.



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Photo of Mark Carlucci

This is a great idea. I have thought about this in the past.
I read the book The Physics of Superheros (http://www.amazon.com/The-Physics-Superheroes-Spectacular-Edition/dp/1592405088), by James Kakalios, based on his university course "Everything I Needed to Know About Physics I Learned from Reading Comic Books." Since reading it, I have had the idea of theme a class like that. I've tried a video game theme with some success.
I was also about to encourage a colleague to try a Superman physics lesson, which she found successful.

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