Learning occurs when students feel successful and are given opportunities to be challenged. In order to feel successful, students need to be engaged and be motivated to learn. Teachers’ roles are to create the learning environment that provide the appropriate level of success and challenge students can navigate through. It is no longer appropriate to structure the classroom to prepare 21st century learners based on 19th century structures. When teachers can design the classroom so that students can use hands-on approach that allows students to learn through play and collaboration, the model of 19th century structures of the physical space and schedules can no longer “limit the types of learning experiences that students can have” (Jacobs, 2010, p.13). Hands-on approach to learning also leads students and teachers to place value on the process of learning instead of the final product or the achievement. Most of the parents of our students were educated using the 19th century model and many do not see the value of play and collaboration. They are more comfortable when school reflects their own educational experiences. When learning is assessed and scaffolded with a focus on process, parents have difficulty understanding that there may not be a test at the end to ‘measure’ the learning that has occurred. Some parents see success and enjoyment at school as a sign that the learning is not challenging enough.
Our North American culture can develop a notion that schools need to be difficult to be meaningful. Shifting parent notions of how learning occurs is one of the biggest challenges when taking an interest-based, hands-on play approach to learning. This challenge has pushed me to be more personally accountable; I have needed to reflect upon and research my educational philosophy so that I am more confident about the effectiveness of this approach to learning.
Jacobs, H.H., (2010). A new essential curriculum for a new time. In Jacobs. H.H., Curriculum 21 Essential Education for a Changing World. (pp.7-17). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.