Monday, August 2, 2010

Star Wars, Darth Vader and project based learning.

This is a story of two men, each one grew up in poverty in a broken home. One was sent to a public school where they wore uniforms, had a rigid code of conduct, and an exit exam to be considered done with his education. A place with very high standards.

The other reached adulthood living on his aunt and uncle's farm. He learned how to be a pilot, learning from a series of mentors that came and went out of his life. The ideal of service and sacrifice to others, became engrained into his very fabric.

The first one became egotistical and obsessed with pleasing others, often seen as rash and quick to temper, yet he preformed very well on all exams given to him by his school. After years of being instructed by a very elite academy his resentment grew from always having to follow orders the prescribed way. This resentment grew until he lashed out at the very institution that had "cared" for him, culminating in a mass murder of his school mates.

The second lad had many opportunities to succeed and fail, yet he typically made his own decisions and had to live with the consequences of his own actions. He daily life consisted of projects that he needed to complete to survive in the harsh environment he called home. Opportunities came along and his sense of adventure led him to accomplish great things, yet he was always humble and remembered his roots, unlike the first lad who was pampered in an educational academy.

If public schools produced Darth Vader, and homeschools produced Luke Skywalker, where would you want to place your kid?

The essence of this essay is to ask what we ask of our kids. Does your school give students the ability to ask questions and learn in a style that fits their spirit? I think we forget that children are unique. A school that prescribes a set way of doing things for all in the end only produces resentment in the very children they are trying to cultivate, nurture and support. Project based schools that allow children to make meaning out of the world from their own perspective have the ability to produce individuals that in the end may blow up the Death Star and save the galaxy.

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