John is currently attempting to raise money to complete a documentary film about the rise of the charter school in New Orleans. If you’d like to help him with this goal, please visit this site.
In a blog posted on Edutopia in 2011, George Lucas, the filmmaker and education activist, wrote: “Recently on Edutopia.org, we published observations from 8th graders about what they believe creates an engaging learning experience. Their answers were straightforward and definitive: project-based learning, technology, and an enthusiastic teacher. I couldn’t agree more.”
That’s the big three: project-based learning, technology and enthusiastic teachers. To put it another way, that’s the Holy Grail of education that all good teachers (including Indiana Jones) aspire to.
What I find fascinating about that accurate observation is that, if push came to shove, the magic could happen with just one of the three elements in the classroom: the technology. The enthusiastic teacher could be somewhere else, connected to the students through technology. That’s certainly not ideal, but it’s certainly possible.
Let me go farther out on the limb and assert that at least some of the other participants in the project-based learning could and should be scattered across the globe. Now that we have technology that does not respect walls or require face-to-face contact, we would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
And that’s my fear — namely, that adults will create some stupid requirement that all three elements — enthusiastic teacher, project participants and technology — must be contained within and limited to one classroom.
When the goal is deeper learning, having those three elements is pretty close to being essential. Right now we are looking for outstanding examples of deeper learning, stories we can tell our PBS NewsHour audience that will make them wish they could be kids in school again.
Please share your suggestions here. Or write me directly if you want your story to be a secret (which makes no sense, of course, because you’re telling me and you know that I have never been able to keep a secret!)
Thanks. We look forward to hearing your ideas.