Learning Log Out class week 12
[21 January 2011]
Why is it that many students who do not shine in school, may excel in extra curricular activities such as the visual arts, crafts, music, drama, dance, sports and may even become leaders in activities that are outside the law? Why is it that many youngsters at middle school find it increasingly difficult to achieve as learning becomes more abstract? And why is it that large numbers of students in special education classes are highly kinesthetic? Could it be that hands-on learning should be a critical part of education at every level?
Perhaps an anecdote about a young man we know might illustrate this point. From an early age he loved fishing, hiking, and exploring the wilderness; he taught himself many kinds of crafts including fly-tying, carving, and painting; he loved participating in projects of all kinds. However, he found it difficult to sit still in classrooms and did not shine academically. In his first year of high school, his parents were asked to come to school to meet with his math teacher who told them quite bluntly that their son should never take any more math. "Why how will he be equipped to go to college?" inquired the mother. The teacher replied, "You may have unreasonable expectations for your son!" Recognizing the gifts and strengths of their son, the parents found a tutor to help him through subsequent math classes and made sure that he found support and outlets for his interests and abilities.
What really made it possible for him to survive classroom instruction was that he found an after school internship with the fisheries department of a local university. The last two years of high school, he worked in a small construction company after school, and there, reading and math became not only more understandable but found application as he read construction manuals and used math on the job. In college he learned to fly, and all his visual-spatial and kinesthetic abilities meshed with math as essential survival skills. He was at the top of his college classes in physics and calculus, and has gone on to be a highly successful adult. For him, applied learning was critically important. For how many others, is applied learning the pathway to academic success and further successes throughout life?