Sunday, December 29, 2013

Could Natural Curiousity Be Made To Work In The Classroom?

As a child I was curious. I learnt to count. I was horrendously proud of myself when I figured out how to count to 100 and had figured out the pattern. This was done in a quiet room by myself with me occasionally bothering someone by asking things like "What comes after 39?". Because of course, four-ty is quite different from twen-ty which isn't two-ty and similarly for thirty. This is probably my earliest memory... or one of them (it's all a bit fuzzy).

A little bit older and I was playing around with these little informational cards which had information about a particular animal. Of course, being a boy, we were all into sharks and spiders and .. well... basically anything that could kill you in interesting ways. Unfortunately the Internet wasn't around in which case I was completely reliant on what those cards had on them and encyclopedias - and usually the encyclopedias had less information on blue bottle jellyfish, for example, than the cards did.

Of course, now we have the Internet. You can look things up. Take history for example.

I was having a conversation with Renedox and I took rather an extreme position that history could be dropped from most school's curriculum. Why? Because the desire to learn is already there. People want to know stuff. In which case, why couldn't you pop someone in front of a computer hooked up to the Internet? Of course, it's not quite that simple. Something needs to be there to spark the curiosity. What if it could be video games?

The game doesn't replace real content. It's just there to spark a little interest in the events.

Of course this is a really bad idea. The dropping of anything from the curriculum leads to things no longer being learnt. You could argue that those things aren't useful any more but there are some things - like blacksmithing - that while incredibly useful, aren't taught in anyway any more.

This sort of thing is already starting to happen. I don't mean the learning things on your own but rather, the dropping of subjects from the curriculum. Particularly at a tertiary level where it would seem that we're now more interested in creating people suitable to the workforce as opposed to having education as it's own pursuit.

Which kind of brings us full circle again. While curiosity and learning is a natural instinct, education seems to be an industry about creating workers - those natural instincts be damned, and even, in a lot of ways, fought against (Chromebooks vs. Netbooks).

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