"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself" - John Dewey
There are many views on the role of schools and teaching in general. Education is everything. How we teach, assess learning, and engage students is crucial to their success once they leave our buildings. Will our students apply what they have learned? Are we teaching meaningful lessons that reflect societal challenges?
As I ponder these questions I can't help but reflect on some of the learning activities that one of my teachers - Rebecca Millan - has been utilizing in her Sociology class. In one example she has had her students engaged in some projects and experiments to promote awareness and help them experience the potential difficulties in getting married and raising children. While using Mac Books, students were assigned as couples and provided with a budget to plan a mock wedding. Through the Internet and the use of their cell phones, students’ researched and called different venues and businesses to budget their wedding. The process proved difficult for some as they saw how stressful wedding planning can be and how much goes into the process.
Currently in Ms. Millan's Sociology class students are partaking in an experiment in which they are caring for an “egg baby” for six days, including the weekend. Students are keeping a daily log of how they took care of the baby, what types of problems and encounters were faced, as well as their reaction to these problems. Each day the egg is also checked by Ms. Millan as well as the students' own parents. This experience is proving enlightening for some and she hopes it will help students understand the importance of all decisions and choices they make throughout their young adult lives.
Photo credit: http://www.photoshopnerds.com/new-born-baby-egg-crack.htm
It is important that schools take the time to impart crucial life lessons that students will find relevant and meaningful. I personally find that these types of activities get lost as the pressure mounts to prepare for and have students succeed on standardized exams. My final question is this, will students find more meaning learning about egg babies and wedding planning as it relates to life decisions or skill and drill lessons? As E. Lindeman stated in 1926, "Education is life--not a mere preparation for an unknown kind of future living." As such, students should understand that what they learn in schools can be and should be naturally applied.