In today’s Zits cartoon, Jeremy is stumped by his assignment:
This is a funny cartoon (I love Zits)… but it also makes some important points about typical middle and high school assignments… let’s unpack two elements of this cartoon.
First, we live in a world where Jeremy and his mother can “diddle” — or access the internet — at any time of day to learn whatever they want to learn about (see end of post for an update on “diddling”).
If they want to look up definitions of words, they can do so easily — the one below is from dictionary.com —
Our schools should reflect that reality — that people in the real world have access to technology — and should help students learn to sort through (and assess the relative value and credibility of) massive amounts of information.
To further make the point about why we need to assess the validity of online information, here’s a cartoon that has been making the rounds on Facebook:
The second point to make about the Zits cartoon is that Jeremy is trapped in a school system that forces him to learn about things he does not necessarily care about, and in ways that may be inaccessible to him. Actual school assignments may not be quite as obscure as the task before Jeremy in this cartoon:
Describe in an autobiographical statement the correlation between the societal zeitgeist and hierarchical realities of W.B. Buffant’s 1986 essay on the same subject.
But I get the feeling that if you polled middle and high school students about their homework (or their class work) they would be about as engaged in that material as Jeremy is in this assignment.
I believe that the zeitgeist today is that it’s time to abandon the factory model of schooling and design individualized learning opportunities that allow students to follow their passions. I’m designing that sort of learning environment — at Triangle Learning Community — click on the link to check it out.
Imagine what students such as Jeremy could do if he were mentored to pursue one of his passions…
“Diddling” update — I looked up W.B. Buffant just to see if it was a real person — it may be, but I’ve been unable to find information about him or her. Apparently, other people have similarly looked up terms from today’s strip 🙂
Below is the dashboard of my blog, showing the search terms that have led people to my blog today: