Approaching Learning Cultures

Soon my break will finish and I will return to school to face the first assault of standardized tests. With my return, I will be adding my second post on teaching academic language to ELLs. In the meantime, I’d like to share with you a curriculum approach called Learning Cultures that I’m excited about. It’s really challenging me to think much more deeply about literacy and what it could really look like, if collaboration and discussion were more embedded within the curriculum, instead of just a strategy or activity plugged in somewhere. It’s inspiring me in so many ways right now, generating so many questions. A colleague I deeply respect is involved, and I encourage you to take the time to look at the page of videos from practitioners of this approach.

The article I’m sharing now relates very sharply to the problems with the current moves toward education reform, from what I feel is a unique, philosophical angle.

This article is by David Olson, whose book, The World On Paper I’m about to read. Here is a bit from the article:

More recently, many have warned of the pitfalls of treating one social agent—the school—as if it were the only cause of learning and social development. Others warned of the danger of setting unachievable goals, and still others warned of the naivety of the school systems for promising to achieve the impossible. My criticism is more generic and more severe. It is that assigning responsibility for learning or failing to learn to forces outside of the learners themselves both disables the learners and leads researchers to completely overlook the primary resource for educational development, namely, the learner him or herself as an agent of and with responsibility for his or her own learning. Consequently, it has allowed reformers to ignore aspects of schooling that could be instrumental in advancing children’s agency, responsibility and accountability.