Back in 2013, as my son started his schooling, I watched Logan La Plante’s TEDx talk he did at the University of Nevada. The one line that really struck a chord with me was, “When I grow up, I want to be happy". Logan was homeschooled, but he did not like people’s reactions when he told them this. So he coined the term, “Hackschooling”. His TEDx talk goes on to focus on being happy and healthy, and is a valuable insight into a student’s thoughts on education.
I want to be happy now!
Bringing it back to the quote from the talk, “When I grow up, I want to be happy", it made me think, Why wait till we grow up. Now that I have children of my own, their happiness is one of the main drivers in my life — as it is in many other parents lives — and it has been very interesting to see how this happiness is impacted by how their school day, term, and year is going.
For children to learn, the learning must be challenging, while, at the same time, learning should have scaffolding and tools available so that opportunities for fun, success, and happiness occur during and after the learning.
Happy in the pit
James Nottingham talks about being in the “Learning Pit” as a model to help explain to students how and why challenge is necessary for learning. It provides a framework to help move through the process to co-construct an understanding of the key concepts. Some students, however, will still struggle with these challenges due to “road blocks” to their learning, meaning that happiness, success, and fun are often not part of their school day. These “learning blocks” could be:
- learning difficulties
- a lack of motivation due to no authentic audience
- a struggle to record their ideas using traditional methods
- poor engagement
- difficulty ordering their thoughts.
Some learning blocks minimise the opportunities for learners to move past the confusion into the deeper learning of the model, and could result in learners never getting out of the pit.
Digital tools such as speech-to-text, text-to-speech, brainstorming tools, visual organisers, online collaborative spaces and documents, and blogs all give learners the opportunities to overcome their learning blocks and learn on a more equitable footing. These “nouns of learning” enable the learners to have the tools to develop the “verbs of learning” such as contrasting, summarising, sequencing, questioning, analysing, applying, interpreting, and predicting — to name a few. I think that these digital tools, along with other tools, are going to be a critical part of a learner’s toolbox as we move forward in education.
Happy to merge technologies
One of CORE Education’s Ten Trends is the concept of Digital Convergences, which refers to the merging of previously discrete and separately used technologies, as well as the almost ‘invisible’ integration and use of technologies as a part of our everyday life. Below is my endeavour to look at merging a number of digital tools into a possible writing process to enhance the opportunities for happiness and success in literacy.
Happy to be challenged
I have also attempted to adapt James Nottingham’s Learning Pit diagram to show how Digital Convergences could be integrated into the model to allow for opportunities to overcome the Learning Blocks. Teaching digital tools, and using them as part of the process, gives learners a larger toolkit to draw on when they come across the necessary challenges in their learning. A student who struggles with handwriting could type or dictate their ideas to facilitate a way over their learning block. Similarly, a student who does not see the point of going into the pit because no one apart from the teacher ever sees the learning, may be motivated by blogging his or her learning, and sharing this with a wider audience.
If Logan La Plante is correct, and all children want to be happy when they grow up, what opportunities, then, are we providing for our learners in the classroom that will ensure they feel success and happiness right now and in the future?
Do you allow your learners opportunities to utilise the technologies that are at their fingertips on smartphones, tablets, and laptops?