Seasoned veterans in a discipline – business, engineering, art, psychology,.. – love to tell their “war stories,” and students love to hear them. The pros enjoy sharing what they learned after school, as a means of helping students see the relevance and application of their studies. In short, it’s wisdom. Students, like most people, prefer stories over lectures – especially stories that vicariously connect them to and give them a glimpse of their future working world, and they value the kind of knowledge that has been proven in the field. Education needs to innovate in ways that are meaningful to our students and communities, not just to academia.
One of the keys to great teaching is regularly showing the real-world relevance of what they are learning – case studies and examples help us accomplish this. Another, more difficult, approach is to have students get out of the classroom and “into the wild” to engage in a different type of learning, one that tests and challenges their assumptions about the world they will work in. Kolb’s experiential learning model supports this type of teaching.
To get students to think more realistically about issues in our communities, we conducted an unusual class project that included taking students to a prison for female offenders in our region. The focal issue was our state’s very high rate of female incarceration, and the students’ job was to observe one of their monthly Girl Scout meetings with their daughters – a wonderful program provided by Project MEND – and interview the inmates. We had cameras and after about 2 hours the students had enough material to develop a series of 30-second public service announcements that were ready for use on television.
Now our students have a “war story” all their own!! [End of Part 1]
Have you taken your students “into the wild”? If so, we’d like to hear about it!
More info about our program is at www.novafellowship.org