Ever wonder how we got to this place where doing something different, taking a risk, seems scary?
To answer that question, let’s do a little experiment. Read the below sentence and before you read any further decide if you agree or disagree with it. Don’t think too hard – just go with your gut.
Learning takes place in the classroom.
Okay, you have in your mind if you agree or disagree right? Now think about what your colleagues would say. Would they agree or disagree? What about your school overall? Don’t think just about what people might say, but rather what their actions imply about what they believe. Based on how we structure school, would most people agree or disagree with the above statement?
Now think about this, in his Schools that Learn, Peter Senge outlines 5 “Industrial-Age Assumptions about Learning”. Number #4 is the idea that learning happens in the classroom.
Either through our explicitly expressed agreement or through our behaviors that show our agreement, most of us hold that assumption. Why else would we worry about too many field experiences in one quarter? Why else would we cut extra-curricular activities first when we need to make budget cuts? Why else would we seek to fix learning problems by increasing the amount of time students spend in classrooms? These actions are based on our unconscious assumption that learning requires being in a classroom and being in a classroom means students are learning.
Now think about how out-there of an assumption that is – that the physical place students learn is limited to a box with desks and chairs rather than the abounding experiences of the real world. Think back to your own education: when did you learn best? When you were learning something discrete in a classroom that was only applicable in that same classroom or when you learned something in the context of your life relevant to you and the world?
When we take a risk, we step outside of the paradigms that our assumptions create and see what else is possible. We also realize that “normal” is not something that it has to be, but rather something we create based on our shared unexamined assumptions.
Check out this video and ask yourself:
What’s the shared assumption by the crowd when it starts?
- How is that assumption challenged?
- What is the result?
- And last, but not least what does that mean for education?
And the next time, you see a shirtless dancing guy ask yourself if it makes sense to follow.