Learning is not one-size-fits-all. If you ask every student to do the exact same thing in the exact same way, all they’ll learn is how to follow directions and regurgitate information.
That’s just not good enough. We want our students to solve problems, explore complex issues, and bring their own unique skills and vision into play. Ultimately, we want them to think for themselves.
That all begins by helping them to develop a sense of ownership over their learning. A great way to do that is to simply listen to their questions.
Shortly after the March Break, the Senior Kindergarten students were asked to consider the Habit, “Make the world better”. After some talks and discussions, they generated over a hundred of their own questions that they wanted to explore. These questions were as varied as they were intriguing. They covered everything from littering to solar panels to forest fires to water filtration.
Over the next few weeks, the students chose the question they wanted to answer, took part in experiments, generated hypotheses, and engaged in research with their Grade 5 learning buddies. They also created art, sculptures, and Lego creations to help explain their thinking. They then gathered together all their discoveries and created their own display boards to showcase their learning.
When it was all over, they presented their work to their community. And because they felt a real sense of ownership over their question and thinking, the entire experience was incredibly meaningful. They were excited and eager to talk about their projects, simply because it was what they wanted to learn about!
The lesson for their teachers was clear. If you allow a child to have a voice in their learning, they will embrace the experience and take their thinking further and deeper than you can ever imagine.