Object Based Learning

I’ve been away from the computer(s) and internet since I wrote the post below. The comments have given me reason to want to expand on the subject. I won’t have a chance to address all of them tonight. Carlotta referred to my suggestion of students being objects.

The biggest challenge I faced when I was teaching in college wasn’t differences in learning style, ability or interest. Surprisingly (at least for me) the challenge was that many of the students I had seemed to expect that I was going to perform some mystical process and when I was done they were going to be ready to work in a profession. The hardest fought lesson was getting students to understand that the primary object of the courses I taught was something other than pleasing me: that I genuinely wanted and expected them to learn and be independently skilled.

I actually had a student ask me one day if what I had just asked them to do was ‘busy work’. Of that term, that is the most memorable moment for me. It gave me alot to think about. One of the things I have concluded from it is that once they reach a certain age/understanding level many students recognize or feel that through most of their education they have been objects. If that is the case then that would explain the students I first referred to in the previous paragraph: they had surrendered to being an object.

Whatever reasoning and motivation might lie behind the approach is secondary. What gave me the most to think about was wondering when or if some of the young people in such a state will ever see their way out of it. It’s a weighty thing to contemplate.

About Ron

Homeschooling dad of 4 (ages 27 - 14), grampy to 3, WordPress core contributor, former farmboy & software developer by profession.

Comments

  1. This post is thought provoking. I’m trying to think whether it’s the educational model of school in general that does this, or the fact that our culture is so result-based (ie. commercial). But it’s true – how can kids be individuals when school is ushered on the grand scale? How can kids be individuals without being given the responsibility to decide for themselves what and how to learn? Who really owns the learning of the kids in school anyway? If the success of the kids determines the school’s success?

    Lots to think about.

  2. My experience of teaching in a university resonates somewhat with what you say. However, I have also noticed a great influence of credentialism. In other words, many students are not interested in learning anything and don’t seem to believe that they need to learn things in order to do whatever profession this course is apparently going to train them for. Rather they realize that they need ‘a degree’ or ‘a diploma’ or some other piece of paper in order to get in the door. They sometimes mightily resent the fact that you actually might want them to learn something or become independently skilled. And that seems to come from a wider cultural move towards demanding more credentials which our governments are encouraging in their education policies.

  3. I have to say that being the owner of my learning, seeing the reasons for it, choosing that which I wanted to learn, setting my own standards for achieving it, all these things only happened when I came by autonomous home education theory. In other words, I only freed myself from feeling myself an object of someone else’s educational intentions as an adult with my own children.

    Could it be that when children are allowed to make big learning choices right from the beginning, that they will not become objects in their own minds? And they will not fall prey to the related problem of credentialism of which JoVE writes.

  4. Tammy – I think it’s the educational model simply because the only HS kids that I’ve seen who modeled similar behaviour were those that were strict school-at-home HSers. Probably the most common thing I write about here is the damage caused by most decisions being made for the child by adults.

    JoVE – Definitely. The place I tended to note a difference was in what are called mature students (age 21+). If they were professional students (they had been students since high school), they were more prone to seeing it as a piece of paper.

    Carlotta – Because I learn in a different way than most people do, I was somewhat of a renegade throughout school. I’ve not really changed alot. With many of the things that we talk about in our respective blogs we are forging our own path out of necessity. The freedom of pursuing knowledge or understanding on our own terms is a fantastic thing. I would answer your question witha resounding yes. That doesn’t mean that they will not come to understand that a system exists and to some degree they will let it enter their lives.

  5. I agree about the mature students. In my experience they are a joy to teach. And I think the best compliment I ever had from a student was from someone who had previously taken a course with me and then registered for another one. She said “I know this is going to be a lot of work but I also know that I will learn something.” That is worth more than all the A students in the world.