This one’s from Dewey:
“Just as the biologist can take a bone or two and reconstruct the whole animal, so, if we put before the mind’s eye the ordinay classroom, with its rows of ugly desks placed in geometrical order, crowded together so that there is as little moving room as possible…and add a table, some chairs, the bare walls with possibly a few pictures, we can reconstruct the only educational activity that can possibly go on in such a place. It is all made for listening.“
I couldn’t agree more. Being in Paraguay this summer drove this home in a way I have never seen before–rows of students bent silently over notebooks transcribing the constant drone of a lecturer reading from a yellowing textbook. So, if such a classroom is made for listening, what then would my problem-based, amorphous, flexible, energetic, chaotic classroom be made for?
Perhaps this classroom is for discovering…asking questions and then searching out possible answers. Coming upon holes in understandings and working to fill them, form connections.
Perhaps this classroom is for building…or creating. Bringing together information, skills, perceptions and materials that combine to form new ideas, processes, products.
Perhaps this classroom is for solving…accepting and analyzing challenges and the moving forward [with or without a clear view of the end-goal] toward solving them.
Perhaps this classroom is fundamentally for inquiring.
I’m not sure what that classroom is really for. Perhaps part of the beauty of it is that it’s flexible enough to be for many things. At any rate, any of those things is bound to be more productive, more relevant, more useful, more…fruitful…than just listening.