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Radical Educational Strategies for New Generations

By: Angel Y. Ortiz Torres

As time goes on, students usually get less interested for learning in school and

colleges. I remember how many of my friends on school don't even go to class because they

weren't interested. Moreover, I remember that I go to class and don't pay attention to

teachers, while I was entertained writing my first book. On College, many of my friends got

less interested of some classes, when they don't learn as the way that they expect. The

pressures and the difficult way to transmit knowledge produce, as well as I lived,

frustrations and sleep disorders. Then, the scholar desertion is not just of the rejection of a

student towards education, but also may be a failure in creating interest in the student. If the

student gets interest on education, then he'll be ready to learn and to go further. This

conflict needs radical educational strategies to make better professionals in the future,

considering their dreams and their ways of thinking. Engaging students to learn with their

own style and pace can decrease scholar desertion, increase learning, and foment creativity

critical thinking and values.

Schools and colleges should think in radical educative strategies to foment their

own purposes. There are other conflicts besides the loss of interest and pressures in the

students. Some of the evaluation methods have shortcomings in terms of ensuring the

degree of knowledge of the student. The methods usually lead the students to bottle

information for the exam and then he forgets all as time pass. Some exams usually are

made to trick them, something that are qualifying the student for don't be deceived.

Moreover, the students get nervous, while they are evaluated and can't give the best of

them. Other claims against the Traditional School are explained in a presentation about

Freinet pedagogy in Edutics.es. The presentation tells that the Traditional School is based
on passive methods: where the teacher explains about previous experiment or observation,

the students only listen passively. The students doesn't have a chance to speak freely or

investigate, and promotes individual learning. The reasons for radical educative strategies

are more, but they have one common purpose: develop education as an improvement of

their needs.

To develop education, we must see it from the point of view of its science and

critics. In Wikipedia, the definition of Pedagogy is the art or science of being a teacher.

Also the term is referred to strategies or styles of instruction. On the other side, some critics

states that "Learning is a process people do, not a process that is done to people" and that

"every child has a different learning style and pace and that each child is unique, not only

capable of learning but also capable of succeeding". Those critics tell us that are not

necessary teachers for learning and/or that each one is their own teacher. Moreover, that

each one is their best teacher because they have their unique style and pace for learning.

Then if we join the pedagogy definition and its critics we find a radical educational

strategy. If teachers motivate students to use their own style and pace, students would

improve learning and teachers would learn techniques to transmit knowledge and teachings.

But yet, this strategy needs to be better developed. Some information about learning must

improve the strategy.

“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue

growing as long as we live.” said Mortimer Adler. The Wikipedia's definition of learning is

"to acquire new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, preferences or understanding, and

may involve synthesizing different types of information." There are some theories that try to

explain what happens in learning. The Behaviorism just studies what is objectively

observable in learning. The Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to explain mental
processes. The constructivism sees learning as a way in which the person builds up their

new ideas and concepts. Constructivism, as its said in Wikipedia, states that we build our

knowledge from our experiences. Active learning, discovery learning and knowledge

building are some variations of constructivism. Also it promotes the free exploration within

a rigid structure. Then, the teacher is a facilitator that encourages the students to discover

principles and construct knowledge solving realistic problems. Other learning theories are

the multimedia learning theory that focuses on how effective could be the multimedia in

learning and the Sudbury Model learning theory that I previously mentioned: "learning is a

process that people do, not a process that is done to people." The constructivism learning

theory helps to improve the previously radical educational strategy. If we use the teacher as

a facilitator and as someone who motivate students to learn and discover, we can think on

letting the students have the freedom to discover and construct his knowledge at their own

way and pace. It will foment creativity, critical thinking and increase learning. But

something is still unclear on the effectiveness of this strategy. If we give them the freedom

to do whatever they want, we aren't promoting that the student turns lazy and/or transform

its freedom to debauchery?

The answer could be found in some ideal educative goals that are achieved while

playing videogames. Douglas A. Gentile wrote about some instructional goals (that are

present in videogames and should be present in an ideal educative strategy) in his research

"Violent Video Games as Exemplary Teachers". Some are: "steady process on mastering a

required knowledge and skill at different levels of difficulty, multiple ways of solving a

problem within using just the "the best way", that student that learned also distribute its

time for practice on and on leading them to “over learning” the knowledge and skills at a

point of automaticity, activities that truly excite the learners leading them to a point of
seeming addicted of their studies, that students got rewarded when they successfully

achieved with more advanced tools and higher level skills to attempt even more difficult

material, popularity is acquired when they successfully achieved the curriculum and

students aspire or are proud to be a high achiever, and finally, that success is available to all

regardless its conflicts”. Those instructional goals are considerably important to reach to a

better educational strategy that can turn a lazy learner to an addicted-to-study learner. If

videogames can foment those goals we must emulate its gaming structure to build and

environment where students can achieve those goals by learning at their own style and pace

and teachers being part of the gaming structure motivating them to go on. But still there's

something unclear, how we can deal with a possible debauchery?

The question leads us to find some other persons who made radical educative

strategies. Célestin Freinet was a French pedagogue who created the "New School". He

believes that learning comes from their own experiences (as on constructivism), form the

manipulation of reality, expressing anecdotes, from the organization of an environment in

which every child can formulate and communicate its experiences. Another contribution

from him is the principle of cooperation, creating in the classroom an environment of

communication and cooperation between teacher-student. Another person who worked on a

radical educational strategy was Maria Montessori. She is known for her philosophy and

the Montessori Method. She successfully achieves that several 8 years old students apply to

take the State evaluations for reading and writing. Also she was focused on teaching

students ways to develop their own skills at their own pace which was a principle called

"spontaneous self-development". Those persons got a way deal a possible debauchery. The

principle of cooperation and the "spontaneous self-development" foments values. Then if


teachers and the gaming structured environment foment values the freedom would no be

turned in debauchery.

The Sudbury school practice form is another who proves that letting students decide

what to do with their own time is a good strategy. They give to the students the complete

responsibility for their education. The school runs by a democracy in which students and

staff are equals. A class starts only when an individual creates them. The staffs are not

expected to give classes or any form of curricula. Students are not separated in age-groups

allowing that older students learn from younger ones and vice versa. Another important

feature of the Sudbury is that students usually are spending most of their time playing

games. Play games is considered a valuable tool for learning individuals and foment

creativity. The 80% of their student have graduated from college and have become

successful in many areas of their life. Something that is curious is that all these radical

educative strategies are made for schools, but haven’t used it on Colleges and Universities.

Can a radical educative strategy like these previously mentioned could be used to develop a

better and new college?

Accepted is a movie that joins many of the principles and strategies previously

mentioned. The movie is about some adolescents that were rejected from college and

decided to make a fraudulent college to seek the approval from their parents. The movie

highly criticizes the United States college system and the college ranking system. Those

teenagers were building the fraudulent college while they were letting the students be their

own teachers and make up their own classes. Finally, it was proved that there was a true

learning by fomenting their creativity and their passions and was explained the many

failures of the conventional education. This movie could be a proof of the efficacy of the

radical educative strategies on the College System.


The radical educational strategy looks very efficient as it is reinforced by theories,

principles and real examples. But to prove its efficacy by myself, I decided to experiment

my thesis. I develop a ranking and scheduled structure like those on games to foment

creativity and critical thinking. The structure is very similar at those RPG (Role Playing

Game) games where experience is obtained and on certain point you reach a rank. The

students would learn skills making activities (like quests on games). The knowledge would

be obtained as the student gets interested in the activity. The students are free to choose

what activity he will do, leading him to develop their own style and pace. The teacher may

be someone who encourages them to succeed and foment values (like wise man and

masters of many tales). During the experiment, the two students got an activity to collect

coffee grains and another one that was to take electronic pieces from a television. Some of

the comments done while they were making the activity were: "I have never collect coffee

before", "This is the first time that I see a coffee plant", "I have never saw the interior of a

television", "Hey, look at this, what is this electronic part", and so on. The creativity was

seen when they created their own techniques to realize the activities. They use critical

thinking at every moment when they take decisions. They learned while they made the

activities at a similar rhythm and they were helping each other (a proof that the strategy

foments values). I believe that if this form of education worked in my experiment, it will

surely work on a College.

Engaging students to learn with their own style and pace can surely increase

learning and decrease scholar desertion. Also foment creativity, critical thinking and values

if we give them an environment that stimulates its interest and lower its pressures. The

teacher is needed as a facilitator and motivational person. The environment needs to

achieve the instructional goals that videogames offers to foment an "addiction" to study.
The student needs to feel free and without pressures to offer the best of him. The proofs of

it were seen on theories, principles and people that understood the need for a radical

educational strategy for the new generation of students. Conventional schools and colleges

must see its structure from the tired and stressed eyes of many students that usually don’t

are satisfied with their education course and the time they are forced to spend. We need to

promote education and we need to understand how unique and diverse is the student styles

and pace. What should we do? Maybe continue daydreaming and learning at our own style

and pace as we have done always.


References

, "Freinet en Sintesis." 30, March 2009. 18 May 2009 <http://www.edutics.es/index.php?


option=com_content&view=article&id=86:freinet-en-sintesis&catid=36:educacion>.

"Mortimer Adler quotes." 2001. 18, May 2009


<http://thinkexist.com/quotation/the_purpose_of_learning_is_growth-and_our_minds/216761.html>.

Cerezo , Joaquin. "Freinet en Síntesis." Comunidad de Aprendizaje Edutics. 30 de Marzo de 2009. 19 Apr
2009 <http://www.edutics.es/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=86:freinet-en-
sintesis&catid=36:educacion>.

Gentile, Douglas A.. "Violent Video Games as Exemplary Teachers." 09 Apr 2009
<http://www.mediafamily.org/research/Exemplary_Teachers_SRCD.pdf>.

"Learning theory (education)." Wikipedia. Web.27 Apr 2009.


<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_theory_(education)>.

"Célestin Freinet." Wikipedia. Web.27 Apr 2009. <http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A9lestin_Freinet>

"Pedagogy." Wikipedia. Web.27 Apr 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedagogy>.

"Sudbury school." Wikipedia. Web.18 May 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_model>

"Maria Montessori." Wikipedia. Web.28 Apr 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Montessori>.

"Accepted." Wikipedia. Web.02 May 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accepted>.