Photo CC-By urban_data
The college had a TED talk in February. That was the first time I had ever heard of the TED organization. Later, I happened to stumble upon some TED talks on Netflix. But today was the first time that I had actually given up my time to watch a TED talk. The TED talk was “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” and it was given by a teenager named Logan LaPlante. Logan talked about how his mom pulled him out of a traditional school when he was 9 because the traditional system did not foster the most important life skill of all: learning how to be happy.
I once was asked what the goal of life was. The man who asked me said that not all people will realize it, but that happiness is what we all strive for in all of our actions. He said that no matter the person’s religious beliefs, their culture, or their social status, everyone looks to make decisions that will make them happy. The happiness may be immediate but later lead to heartache or the happiness may come after a long struggle. Whatever the case, we all seek a life of happiness.
In both LaPlante’s video and in Bud Hunt’s blog post “Centering on Essential Lenses: Make/Hack/Play,” ‘hacking’ was mentioned frequently. Both resources described hacking in a positive light – as a way to always strive to make what is good better and make what you have made better into the best. When we hack in education we help our students solve problems smarter, not harder. This often results in not only the possibility of more learning happening in a year, but a less stressed environment. Less stress means that learning is fun and this means that kids will inevitably be happier.
When Hunt defined the word play, I took it as a lesson on how to help students hack their education. He wrote that ‘play’ is “the search for freedom within constraints.” When this definition is applied in the realm of education, it tells us to give our students the freedom to learn how they learn best, but with some boundaries provided. An easy example of this would be giving students several choices in writing prompts. They have some freedom, but the constraints given to them will (at least we hope) help them apply the skills they have recently learned. And, as Hunt said, it is always better for a student to make. When we apply what we have learned it is much easier to remember it at a later time.
One major question I have after watching LaPlante’s video and reading Hunt’s blog post is why do we focus on standards in education, stress students out with standardized tests, and bother with other trivial conquests? I’d love to hear your thoughts!