In its pure form, learning is a spontaneous, non-linear, and organic process. It looks nothing like the curricula we design for traditional class learning environments, it happens within the context of other subjects (not isolated from them), and it happens most permanently for reasons the learner is emotionally invested in (not for a third party evaluation). Even if people do not consciously understand learning this way, they intuitively do to some extent.
Books are designed to communicate thoughts - an essential, globally underutilized, and foundational resource to learning. However, books and other educational content are tools for learning. They do not produce it by themselves. Learning comes from playing with the thoughts we find in learning resources - at least exploring them in novel ways.
Unlike a student in a classroom, parents are with their children in infinitely diverse contexts. Parents are eager for niche ideas in highly-contextual situations to stimulate learning within their kids. What resource exists to help you go off script, play with new thoughts, and enjoy books? Excellent teachers. How can we make every parent an excellent teacher? It’s not happening, but everyone has sparks of creative magic to share. How do we capture those - no matter how niche - and organize them for everyone’s easy reference? A sufficiently expansive repository accessible from parents’ phones would give them a huge boost that no genius teacher or library of books could provide them.
These ideas have been some of my foremost thoughts for the last two and a half years: the creation of a crowdsourced repository of creative approaches to stimulate interest in a variety of subjects, academic or occupational, all within the context of interests that kids already have. If the subject matter is tied to something they’re already interested in, kids will explore ideas in novel ways, appreciate a variety of subjects more, and most importantly - enjoy learning. I recently launched a minimum-viable product that appears to do a sufficient job organizing these learning sparks. They’re found at PassionEducation.org.
However, I have had a difficult time facilitating the creation and contribution of these sparks from visitors of the site. The truth is that everyone has it in them to create these novel learning approaches. So what will facilitate the creation of them most effectively?
Yesterday I tested a simple three-question survey approach with a few people to surface creative learning coach approaches that parents could use. The results from the small test were great. Take a look at how easy it was to pull these great ideas out of regular, uncertified people:
1 - What is a subject (academic or occupational) you find particularly interesting?
- World Cultures
2 - What is an interest or passion that at least some kids have (toy, fictional series, activity, celebrity, etc.) that you could utilize to introduce them to your above-mentioned personal subject of interest?
- Dress Up Games
- Watching Movies
- Street Fighter
- Fish Tank
- Fast Food
3 - How would you attempt to invoke an interest in your subject (from question 1) within a kid who is passionate about that thing (from question 2)? Thank you very much.
- Play doctor with first the child as patient, then the parent as patient. Talk about body parts and body organs, using the stethoscope to check the lungs for example, and talk about what they do.
- Watch movies dubbed in Spanish.
- What are all the ways each character from Street Fighter accurately and inaccurately represent the culture of their native country?
- How do star fish breathe? How do they walk?
- Make hamburgers and french fries at home with the child and introduce cooking skills/knowledge, nutritional facts.
Can you offer a moment to contribute a nugget of learning-coach creativity? It will nudge us all a little closer to that vision of an expansive open repository (currently in its nascent stage at PassionEducation.org).
Once an effective system is created for scaling up this effort of surfacing creative ideas from regular people, focus will be placed on designing the right way to prioritize the subject/interest combinations that parents demand the most.