Homeschooling, private schooling, charter schools, public schools… the list goes on. Many platforms exist for the purpose of meeting the educational needs of students.
I just watched a TED Talk by a young teenager named Logan LaPlante. He Hackschools. It’s a homeschooling philosophy that uses life experiences to teach. It works for Logan, and he seems to be thriving.
From the TED Talk, one can see that Logan has rich opportunities to explore nature, business, physical activity, and more. His experiences have allowed him to see how the academics he is learning about relate to real world situations. As a result, he is intrinsically motivated to learn. (For more information about hackschooling and Logan’s TED Talk, visit hackschooling.net.)
In the TED Talk, Logan discusses the guiding principles that hackschooling is structured around: a creativity mindset, experiential classes and camps, tech and online resources, and 8 Happy and Healthy TLCS (Dr. Rodger Walsh’s Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes – they are diet/nutrition, time in nature, relationships, recreation, relaxation, and religious/spiritual).
Hackschooling is not for everybody. Some families do not have a parent at home during the day that can oversee the activities and learning of the child. Some families do not have the financial resources available to cover the expenses of such a schooling experience. Not all students would do well under a schooling method that requires that amount of self-guided learning. All learners are different, and what works for one, may not work for another.
If the school system were a spectrum, I think Public School and Hackschooling would lie on opposite ends. The philosophies of the two methods are very different. However, that does not mean that we have to disregard some of the hacks that Logan talks about in his TED Talk when we are looking at public education.
Public schools do not exist for the purpose of providing individualized learning experiences outside of the classroom. I wish there could be more field trips, nature camps, and exposure to the arts. Public schools do not have the resources or ability to provide a large number of these activities to students though.
We can, however, take our class on virtual field trips. We can have guests from other cultures or occupations into our classrooms to expose our students to the world around them. We can provide opportunities for kids to experiment and observe. As teachers we will need to think outside of the box in regard to how we expose kids to real life situations so students make connections between the academic world and the world they live in.
What we can do is to teach kids how to think critically. We can teach them how to problem solve. We can help them discover their individual learning style. We can help them discover the areas within education that gets them excited. We can strive to develop in students intrinsic motivation that will help shape their lives and choices.
Rather than focus on what I can’t do within the walls of a public school classroom, I want to seek out innovative ways to bring the outside world in. I want to help my students think, read, apply, and create. I want to help make the lives of my students better.
I want to hack the school system I am in.
Photo CC: by Thomas Hawk