A Sense of Ownership
During our first meeting, I found myself empathizing with the teacher’s trepidation about this project. On the one hand, she was being told that she wouldn’t be held accountable for any failures during this novel approach to summer school. Yet as a fellow teacher, I wondered how an educator could ever feel okay with the idea of students failing. It is the age-old obstacle of education — we want to leap forward, to be the early adopters and transformative thinkers, but who wants to let their students be guinea pigs? The stakes are so high…
On the 27th, we were part of the “first day.” Almost all of the students raised their hands when Brian asked if anyone hated math (my hand included!) So far Los Altos has captivated the news coverage, but…
How might we make Kahn Academy a successful learning tool for high-schoolers?
How might we appeal to and incentivize older students (incoming sophomores through seniors)?
How might we make-up for years of poor teaching?
How might we combat years of math letdowns?
These kids at EA are the ones who have the most gain — not only in academic skill but also in confidence.
When Brian introduced the project, one student asked if they were going to be the summer’s “lab rats.” Although they were excited about possibly being on video (hoping that they would become “famous”), my hope is that they will embrace the process and realize that they, and they alone, are taking ownership of their own learning with this approach. This experiment is not about them, it is for them. In taking ownership, the individual responsibility is greater, but hopefully the pursuit is therefore more rewarding. I truly hope that this process will underscore the power of intrinsic motivation, the want for satisfying learning, and the appeal of an individualized approach.
Not only do the kids need to take ownership, but so does the teacher. Immediately I was impressed by how Ruth, the teacher, has been scheming, looking at the Kahn Academy tools and thinking about how to blend the approach with her own. She wants to customize the star map to align it to the power standards she is supposed to cover over the summer. This sense of ownership is key to any change being adopted and embraced in education. Teachers need to be recognized as the experts who not only have the knowledge base but the professionalism to best address their students’ needs. It is going to be an exciting month!
Written by Darri Stephens