BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is important to shape a unit and course. Being able to set specific goals to accomplish specific outcomes is critical to keep the course on track with initial goals to completion of assessments. Often in education setting goals can be just one more thing to do but we aren't valuing the importance of aligning appropriate activities and assessments with these goals. We must be careful to not just write objectives as something to put on our boards or check off our list, but really placing value and being purposeful with what we are wanting students to learn.
I have watched Bring on the Revolution by Sir Ken Robinson before, but like any other movie or video, I was captured by different ideas. I have had conversations again and again with colleagues about the GT or gifted and talented program. Many of these students qualify for this program in kindergarten and remain eligible for the GT program throughout their high school years. What? Why is it ok for a 5-year-old to qualify for a program and remain in this program for another 12 years? And this brings me to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. If you read the whole book, not just an excerpt you will start to understand the total picture of how some exceptional standouts get to where they are. And one of the components is their age, especially with athletes. If you begin a sport at age 6 when most of the other children are 5, you have a major size advantage. Then you may end up excelling, which pushes you into the best teams with the best training and so forth. This does not ring true in education. You may be labeled the “smartest” student at age 6 when others in the class are 5, but brain development and maturity may differ in later years. Why are we labeling kids for eternity? When I used to teach Algebra to 8th graders, you had to be a GT student or you were ineligible for the program. These are fundamental skills that will continue through many other math subjects. Having a student take Algebra a year before required, when the student is not ready, then sets them up to struggle in Algebra 2, pre-calculus and so forth. But some parents are adamant that their student remains in the GT program. Their mindset of their son or daughter being labeled gifted and talented is more important than them struggling and flailing in the program.
After viewing A new culture of learning, these quotes grabbed my attention.
“Learning is natural and effortless everywhere but school.” This statement isn't just profound but discouraging. How disappointing to think that the only time learning is stifled is in a school setting. I believe in order to create a naturalistic perspective we have to make learning more organic. We must take out time restrictions involved in structured curriculum, giving students a flexibility to move on, or take the time to let things sink in. In addition, we have to find a way to personalize the learning, to allow for students to work their passions into the educational setting. Now the challenge is figuring out a solution to these problems while as an educator not causing strife between parents and policy makers.