In the book Becoming Adult: How Teenagers Prepare for the World of Work, Mikhaly Csikszentmihalyi and Barbara Schneider explore the types of learning experiences that increase student engagement and make students feel they're pursuing endeavors that are useful and relevant. Here are some passages from the book that show us how important inquiry-based and student-driven learning is in creating the most optimal learning experiences for students:
Schooling, we have found, is primarily a passive and independent activity. Students spend more class time listening to their teacher talk about a subject, taking notes, and doing individual work than doing anything else. There is a great deal of variation with respect to how challenging and important students find common classroom activities. In general, students concentrate harder and appear to learn more during activities that they find both challenging and important.
|Ferris Bueller let us all know how bored students really were in class|
|Here's an illumination by Laurentius de Voltolina from the 1300's which shows |
students sleeping and talking during a lecture at the University of Bologna, Italy.
Times haven't changed much, unfortunately, have they? *
So what's the solution?
|Get students into a state of flow through activities that allow|
them to make their own choices . . .
|. . . and to be creative!|
|Also make sure students have opportunities to collaborate|
To facilitate flow experiences, schools need to create environments in which students understand both the broader purpose of schooling and the specific purpose of individually assigned tasks. Adults can encourage engagement by becoming involved as mentors and advisers to students as they undertake work that challenges their skills. In school, as in other contexts, adults have the responsibility for assuring that the demands made of adolescents have a clearly defined purpose. In addition to providing support to students, adults also need to give them the freedom to direct their own efforts. (164)
* We found the manuscript through David Thornburg who, in this blog post, writes about it and the need for change in education.
We love this edutopia article on the way inquiry-based instruction deepens learning.
Check out the book Flow, also by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.