Students put learning concepts to real-life test
In some ways, today’s students have been preparing for this moment their whole lives.
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In some ways, today’s students have been preparing for this moment their whole lives. Their educational experiences have been shaped by concepts like collaborative work, project-based learning, real-world scenarios, finding innovative solutions, and the underlying mantra that they can save the world.
In lower elementary, perhaps they’re taken out to a weedy, forgotten corner of campus and asked to imagine a verdant garden thriving in that very spot. And then maybe they’re given tools and seeds and time in their day to make that garden happen.
In middle school they might break into groups and build little cars that run on solar panels or draw designs for water
filtration systems to solve the drinking water crisis in faraway countries.
In high school they write position papers on current political issues and practice debating both sides of an argument. They’re encouraged to form their own club if what they’re interested in isn’t represented on campus. They organize food drives for the hungry,
slipper drives for the homeless, projects that have impact beyond their campus.
So much of what used to be taught in school was facts and formulas — information that is now easily searchable on a smartphone. New models of teaching encourage students to use this readily available information to come up with new ways of seeing the world, new solutions to old problems.
On Wednesday students in schools around the state will join with students across the country in a peaceful demonstration, a 17-minute walkout to remember the 17 people killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. What is remarkable is that this effort is solely student-driven, and while parents and teachers have offered guidance and support, for the most part it is students thinking for themselves, connecting with other kids, taking control of their message.
It is sad that all their years of learning how to be proactive, self-directed and project-oriented are culminating in the ultimate practical exam with the goal of saving their own lives. There was hope that maybe these kids would be out there saving the planet, not just trying
to stay safe on their own campuses.
Hawaii school administrators, both public and private, seem to be wisely seeing Wednesday’s walkout as an opportunity for student learning and growth. Discussions have largely been how to support all students whether they plan to participate or not.
“HIDOE supports students’ constitutional rights to a peaceful assembly and free expression,” schools
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wrote in a letter to parents. “What we hope to gain from these experiences are student voices that help to shape how we can better design schools with safety in mind.”
Today’s students have been working toward this kind of activism their whole lives. What a terrible thing that they are having to use what they’ve learned in school simply to stay alive in school. Hopefully, they can solve this problem and move on to saving the rest of the world.