Archives For authentic learning

In the video 4 Keys to CSLE+COVA and in the upcoming CSLE+COVA book my colleagues and I are just about to release we argue that we need to take a positive approach to exploring how we improve or enhance the learning environment and we propose the following four keys or presuppositions to creating significant learning environments by giving learners choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning:

  1. Anything we do for the learner will improve achievement.
  2. There has never been a better time to be a learner.
  3. There really are no new fundamental approaches to learning; just new ways of combining well established ideas.
  4. There is no quick fix to learning, the classroom or education.

I want to focus on the 3rd point where I argue that there really are no new fundamental approaches to learning; just new ways of combining well established ideas. I am not alone in the assertion; Piaget made a similar claim over fifty years ago. Ginsburg and Opper (1969) point out in the summary of their book Piaget’s theology of intellectual development: An introduction:

It should be clear that these ideas are not particularly new. The “Progressive” education movement has proposed similar principles for many years. Piaget’s contribution is not in developing new educational ideas, but in providing a vast body of data and theory which provide a sound basis for a “progressive” approach to the schools. A long time ago, John Dewey, in rejecting traditional approaches to education called for and attempted to provide a “philosophy of experience”; that is a thorough explication of the ways in which children make use of experience in genuine learning. Piaget has gone a long way toward meeting this need (p. 231)

Piaget spent most of his career, over fifty years, observing and interviewing children of all ages as he gathered the data to support his theories. It is extremely important that we recognize that “none of the investigators whose theories have been used to explain the development of children—Freud, Lewin, Hull, Miller and Dollard, Skinner, Werner—has studied children as extensively as Piaget (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. x).

We should be shocked and concerned to learn that Skinner who is one of the originators of the Behaviourist approach that still dominates our educational system “hardly studied children at all” (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. x).

Despite writing over 30 full length books and over 100 articles, being considered the first theorist to provide an effective empirical argument against behaviourism, and being viewed as one of the founding fathers of constructivism, Piaget’s writing is difficult to read for a contemporary audience that may lack the necessary philosophical background. Even though many hold Piaget to be one of them foremost authorities on child development he did not intend to focus on the field of child developmental psychology but was more interested in dealing with the problems in the philosophical study of epistemology which is concerned with how we come to know and how we attain knowledge—how we learn. Piaget’s writing may be difficult to access because he is first a philosopher and only used the science of psychology to help him deal with the philosophical issues of knowledge. He also felt that many epistemological problems were essentially psychological and scientific method would help him to move from the speculation of philosophy and move more of an objective explanation.

This notion of how we come to know or make meaningful connection and essentially learn is a fundamental aspect of the CLSE+COVA approach and as we have stated earlier we owe much of our foundational thinking to Dewey, Piaget, Brunner, Papert and more contemporary authors who provide current interpretations on these foundational works. Ginsburg and Opper (1969) chapter Genetic epistemology and the implications of Piaget’s finding for education offers some the the most accessible and concise summaries of Piaget’s ideas that we have incorporated into CSLE+COVA. The chapter deals with much more than what I will share below but my intention is to make Piaget’s work accessible rather then expand on his blending of philosophy and psychology. Since this particular issue of Ginsburg and Opper (1969) book Piaget’s theology of intellectual development: An introduction is out of print and only used copies are available I will share as much of the final chapter of the book that I can. Newer editions of the book are also out of print but used copies are available online. Where ever expedient I will paraphrase the writing and where it is more appropriate I will use direct quotes.

Active learning – Authentic Learning Opportunities

Perhaps the most important single proposition that an educator can derive from Piaget’s work and thus use in the classroom, is that children, especially young ones, learn best from concrete activities. (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. 220).

The concrete activities that Piaget refer to can easily be mapped to the authentic learning opportunities that we recommend in COVA. Our use of the notion of authentic correlates to concrete in the sense that the activities have a “real-world” component and are activities that the learner can fully engage. Ginsburg and Opper (1969) expands on how a teacher would create this type of a Piagetian classroom or learning environment.

For these reasons a good school encourage the child’s activity, and their manipulation and exploration of objects. When the teacher tries to bypass this process by imparting knowledge in a verbal manner, the result is superficial learning. But by promoting activity in the classroom the teacher exploits the child’s potential for learning and permits them to evolve an understanding of the world around them. This principle (that occurs through the child’s activity) suggests that the teacher’s major task is to provide for the child a wide variety of potentially interesting materials on which them may act. The teacher should not teach, but should encourage the child to learn by manipulating things (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. 221).

This notion of active learning means that an educator must reorient traditional their beliefs about education and focus the fact that:

Teachers can in fact impart or teach very little. It is true that they can get the child to say certain things, but these verbalizations often indicate little in the way of real understanding. Second, it is seldom legitimate to conceive of knowledge as a thing which can be transmitted. Certainly the child needs to learn some facts, and these may considered things; the child must discover them for themselves. Also, facts are but a small portion of real knowledge. True understanding involves action, on both the motoric and intellectual level…The teachers job then is not so much to transmit facts or concepts to the child, but to get them to act on both the physical and mental levels. These actions—far more then imposed facts or concepts— constitute real knowledge. (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. 222).

Since information transfer isn’t the role of the teacher creating a significant learning environment in which the learner is able to discover things for themselves is the key. We would argue that this guided discover happens by giving the learner choice, ownership and voice through authentic learning opportunities.

Ownership of Learning

Equilibration theory emphasizes that self-regulatory process are the basis for genuine learning. The child is more apt to modify their cognitive structure in a constructive way when they control their own learning than when methods of social transmission (in this case teaching) are employed. Do recall Smedslund’s experiments on the acquisition of conservation. If one tries to teach this concept to a child who does not yet have available the mental structure necessary for its assimilation, then the resulting learning is superficial. On the other hand, when children are allowed to progress at their pace through the normal sequence of development, they regulate their own learning so as to construct the cognitive structures necessary for the genuine understanding of conservation (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. 224).

Ginsburg and Opper (1969) indicate that Piaget would then argue that to take these principles seriously then one must extensive change classroom practice. Teachers should:

  • Be aware and assess the learners current level of understanding/functioning.
  • Orient the classroom toward the individual rather then the group.
  • Give the learner considerable control over their learning.

The following section summary captures what this type of learning would look like. Piaget argues that the classroom unit should be disbanded and that learners work on individual projects that they are interested in and given considerable freedom in their learning. To deal with the most common objectives to this learning arrangement Piaget suggests learners shouldn’t all be learning the same thing at the same time and that we should have more faith in the intellectual life of the learner. He stresses the importance of tailoring the learning to the individual and points out how important it is to allow the child and the adolescent to follow their interests and control how they acquire knowledge through their own directed activities apart from instruction in school and formal instruction.

Perhaps the most poignant example of how foolish it is for us to attempt to rigidly control all aspects of learning with traditional teaching methods is to consider how an infant is interested in the world around them is able to learn so much without formal instruction.

One need only watch an infant for a short period of time to know that they are curious, interested in the world around them, and eager to learn. It is quite evident, too, that these are characteristics of older children as well. If left to themselves the normal child does not remain immobile; they are eager to learn. Consequently, it is quite safe to permit the child to structure their own learning. The danger arises precisely when the schools attempt to perform the stalk for them. To understand this point consider, the absurd situations that would result if traditional schools were entrusted with teaching the infant what they spontaneously learn during the first few years. The schools would develop organized curricula, in secondary curricular reactions; they would develop lesson plans for object permanence; they would construct audio-visual aids on causality; they would reinforce “correct” speech; and they would set “goals” for the child to reach each week. One can speculate as to the outcome of such a program for early training. What the student needs then is not formal teaching, but an opportunity to learn. They need to be given a rich environment, containing many things potentially of interest. They need a teacher who is sensitive to their needs, who can judge what materials will challenge them at a given point in time, who can help when they need help and who has faith in their capacity to learn (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. 224-225).

Social interaction

Piaget suggests that in addition to physical experience and concrete manipulations the learner needs social experience and interactions with a wide assortment of people. He points out that younger children learn to relinquish their egocentrism through social interaction and adjust to others at the emotional level. In addition, the social interaction helps the learner to become more coherent and logical and use language to discover reality and internalize the experience into a compact category of experience. Piaget argues:

…social interaction should play a significant role in the classroom. Children should talk with one another. They should converse, share experience, and argue. It is hard to see why schools force the child to be quite, when the results seem to be only an authoritarian situation and extreme boredom. Let us restrict the vow of silence to selected orders of monks and nuns (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. 228).

Traditional Methods of Instruction

Piaget’s theory implies that there are grave deficiencies in “traditional” methods of instruction, especially in the early years of school. By “traditional” methods we mean cases in which the teacher uses a lesson plan to direct the students through a given sequence of material; attempts to transmit the material to the students by means of lectures and other verbal explanations; forces all students to cover essentially the same lessons; and employs a textbook as the basic medium for instruction. Under such an arrangement students take fixed positions in a classroom; talk to one another only at the risk of punishment; are required to listen to the teacher; must study the material which the teacher feels is necessary to study; and must try to learn from books. It is, of course, the case that teachers differ in degree to which they employ traditional methods. No two classrooms are identical, and it would be difficult to find one which is traditional in all respects and at all times. Nevertheless, traditional methods are still highly influential in education today, as even casual observations of the school reveal (Ginsburg & Opper, 1969 p. 229).

This traditional environment is based on four assumptions that have some aspect of merit but are acted upon in the traditional school in a excessive manner.

  1. Students at a given age level should learn the same material. While it is true that there are levels of development and age appropriate instruction the traditional school forces students to cover the same material each day the traditional method ignore the fact that there are individual differences in the pace of learning.
  2. Students learn through verbal explanation from the teacher or through written exposition in books. While this has some element of truth Piaget’s research shows that students verbal explanations are only useful after a basis of concrete activity.
  3. If given greater control over their learning students would waste their time and learn little. If students aren’t given guidance then they would waste their time but this doesn’t mean they should have no control. Piaget points to research that a major part of learning depends on the self regulatory process. In addition, we can’t ignore just how much students learn outside of school.
  4. Uncontrolled taking in class is disruptive to the educational process. Piaget points out that while excessive noise may prevent learning he also points to the fact that teachers are more distracted by noise then students. The the noise is worthwhile because the clash of opinions and the intelligent and spontaneous conversations is beneficial for mental growth.

The following quote from Piaget offers a helpful summary of his educational goals:

The principle goal of education is to create [people] who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done—[people] who are creative, inventive and discovers. The second goal of education is to form minds which can be critical, can verify, and not accept everything they are offered. The great danger today is of slogans, collective opinions, ready-made trends of thought. We have to be abel to resist individually, to criticize, to distinguish between what is proven and what is not. So we need pupils where active, who learn early to find out by themselves, partly by their own spontaneous activity and partly through material we set up for them; who learn early to tell what is verifiable and what is simply the first idea to come to them (Duckworth, 1964 p. 175).

References

Ginsburg, H., & Opper, S. (1969). Piaget’s theology of intellectual development: An introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Duckworth, E. (1964). Piaget rediscovered. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2(3), 172–175.

Constructivist or those who believe that we learn by making meaningful connections and we construct new knowledge when we combine or relate it to what we already know have argued that working on real-world or authentic learning opportunities is one of the most effective ways to learn. Authentic learning is a key component of the CSLE+COVA approach and when we talk about authentic learning or refer to giving learners choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning opportunities we are summarizing authentic learning in the following way.

Learners are given the opportunity to select and engage in real-world or authentic learning opportunities that enable them to make a genuine difference in their own learning environments. The selection and engagement in these real-world problems that are relevant to the learner furthers their ability to make meaningful connections (Donovan, Bransford, & Pellegrino, 2000) and provide them with career preparedness not available in more traditional didactic forms of education (Windham, 2007). Research confirms that authenticity is only developed through engagement with these sorts of real-world tasks and that this type of authentic learning can deepen knowledge creation and ultimately help the learner transfer this knowledge beyond the classroom (Driscoll, 2005; Nikitina, 2011). It is also important to recognize that authenticity is not an independent or isolated feature of the learning environment but it is the result of the continual interaction between the learner, the real-world activity, and the learning environment (Barab, Squire, & Dueber, 2000). This is also why we stress that in the CSLE+COVA model choice, ownership, and voice are realized through authentic learning and without this dynamic and interactive authenticity, there would be no genuine choice, ownership, and voice (Thibodeaux, Harapnuik, & Cummings, 2017).

The authentic learning aspect of the CSLE+COVA approach maps closely to Newmann, & Wehlage five standards of authentic learning:

  1. Higher-order thinking – learners move beyond the regurgitation of facts to making meaningful connections that transform information and ideas through analysis, synthesis, design, and creation.
  2. Depth of knowledge – learners are able to solve complex problems and systematically synthesizing large amounts of fragmented information into cohesive arguments and explanations that lead to a deeper understanding.
  3. Connectedness to the world beyond the classroom – learners address authentic or real-world and use these personal experiences to apply their gained knowledge and experience.
  4. Substantive conversation – learners collaborate with peers and experts to use higher order thinking to enter into a dialogue that can collectively improve the understanding of the authentic problems or projects.
  5. Social support for student achievement – learner use collaboration rather than competition as the path to developing an environment that promotes, diversity, respect, and inclusion.

By pointing to these five standards of authentic learning we are confirming that the CSLE+COVA approach is not only a synergy of well established constructivist ideas we are also confirming our it is better to build on the positive narrative about improving learning by building on a solid foundation that we emphasize in the following video:

References

Barab, S. A., Squire, K. D., & Dueber, W. (2000). A co-evolutionary model for supporting the emergence of authenticity. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(2), 37-62.

Donovan, S. M., Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2000). How People Learn: Bridging research and practice. Washington D. C.: National Academy Press.

Newmann, F. & Wehlage, G. (1993). Five standards of authentic instruction. Educational Leadership, 50 (7), 8-12.

Nikitina, L. (2011). Creating an authentic learning environment in the foreign language classroom. International Journal of Instruction, (4)1, 33-36. Retrieved from http://www.e-iji.net/dosyalar/iji_2011_1_3.pdf

Thibodeaux, T. N., Harapnuik, D. K., Cummings, C. D., & Wooten, R. (2017). Learning all the time and everywhere: Moving beyond the hype of the mobile learning quick fix. In Keengwe, J. S. (Eds.). Handbook of research on mobile technology, constructivism, and meaningful learning. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Submitted for Publication.

Windham, C. (2007). Why today’s students value authentic learning. Educause Learning ELI Paper 9. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3017.pdf


It is very important that you understand the full context of my son’s circumstances to understand the following authentic learning experience that I am about to share. The average home price on the North Shore of Vancouver is around 1.5 million dollars and this is for a very average 1200 square foot house. To put this in context, the 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 3000 square foot house with 10, 12 and 14 foot ceilings, polished concrete floors and an attached 3 car garage on 2 acres of land that we sold for $250,000 when we left Abilene Texas in 2011 would be worth between 4-4.5 million dollars in West Vancouver which is the most prestigious area of the North Shore. As you can imagine rents in this area also extremely high.

When we moved to the North Shore back in 2013 so that my boys could pursue their dreams of becoming professional Down Hill Mountain bike racers we knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a home. While the cost of housing is ridiculous there are other benefits that make living on the North Shore a priority for my boys. In addition to living between 5-15 minutes away from 3 different mountains my boys use for daily training, we are also an hour away from Whistler which has one of the best Down Hill Mountain Bike Parks in the world. Factor in the amazing bike culture that has grown out of the North Shore and Whistler and one could argue that there are few better places in the world where my boys could pursue their dreams.

Unfortunately, Down Hill Mountain Bike racing is a relatively new sport (about 20 years old) and most pro racers do not make much money when compared to other professional athletes. In 2016 Aaron Gwin who is the top racer in the world changed the sport by moving to a new company that was willing to pay him 3 times what his previous company paid him. This massive increase put his annual contract at just under half a million dollars a year. There are only a handful of riders in the world who are making low six-figure salaries so unfortunately, most up and coming pro racers like my boys are lucky to have sponsorships which will help cover the cost of equipment but the cost of travel, racing, training, and living is something that is up to the rider. This explains why my two boys who are 19 and 21 still live at home. Both my boys are extremely independent and even though they live with their parents they have complete freedom and control over all other aspects of their lives. We live in one the most expensive places in North America and they don’t make much money—yet. If we were living anywhere else they would be on their own.

A few months back, neighborhood friends asked if either our boys would be willing to house sit for them and take care of their two full-size dogs when they went to Hawaii for a month. Levi, my older son who was still 20 at the time, jumped at the opportunity to house sit and have his own space for a full month. I managed to control myself and didn’t comment at all on his decision even though I was thinking to myself, I hope Levi realizes just how much work and time walking, exercising and caring for those dogs and that large house is going to take. These people live in a large house at the base of Mount Fromm near the end of a trail that Levi often trains on so I can only image that the proximity to his training was another factor that swayed his decision.

One more bit of context… My boys grew up having choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning opportunities (COVA) so I saw this opportunity for Levi to have another wonderful way to learn some valuable life lessons — especially when it comes to taking care of other people’s stuff and their animals. My boys didn’t have pets growing up partially because we traveled a fair amount and our lifestyle didn’t really allow for being tied down by animals. When my boys were much younger we often took care of friends cats, dog, gerbils and birds so while my boys didn’t live with animals for years at a time there were times when they were responsible for animals for months at a time so Levi should have known partially what he was getting into. Back to the house and sitting scenario.

About a week into Levi’s house and dog sitting experience when he stopped by to work on his bike, I simply asked him how it was going and he lamented:

…This is taking way more time than I expected…those dogs just won’t leave me alone… I like them but they take so much work… I walk them in the morning before I train… then I come over here to work on my bike… and then I have to go into work and then after work I have to walk them again…

Once again, I managed to control myself and didn’t comment on anything but I did ask if there was anything I could do to help. Levi simply said,

No Dad…I got this.

I knew before Levi had taken on this responsibility that the small freedom that this great house would offer would come at a significant expense of time which Levi just didn’t have. Our garage is equipped as a bike repair shop so I knew Levi would still come home on a daily basis after his training rides to clean and maintain his bike. As a professional athlete, Levi controls his diet very closely and is a creature of habit so I also knew he would be coming home daily to prepare his meals and eat. I knew he would want to use and have access to the Vitamix, the pantry, the freezer and all the food prep resources he was accustomed to. I also knew that his responsibility as the head mechanic and mountain bike instructor at his sponsor Endless Biking would be increasing that same month because Endless was starting to receive their shipments of new bikes for the upcoming season.

So as the days progressed Levi kept coming over earlier and earlier in the morning to make his special shake and then head to the gym which is only a block away. Levi would pop in and out throughout the day between training, working, exercising the dogs and then we wouldn’t see him until the next morning. Our friends came back and on the first night Levi was back at home I told Levi I was proud of how well he handled the responsibility and commended him for going above and beyond what was expected in exercising the dogs. When he said—I am glad this is over… I am never going to do that again… I couldn’t contain myself any longer and started the following short exchange. I had learned over the years that the best way to start a learning moment conversation was to provide a brief context and then ask a question. So I simply stated… Levi, when I was young I too house sat and took care of other people’s dogs like you have so I knew before you took on this responsibility just how much work this was going to be. I am sorry for not telling you about this before. Can you tell me how I might have talked to you or warned you about what you were really taking on. Without hesitation Levi stated— Dad, I wouldn’t have listened… I had to learn this myself. Levi then gave me a big strong hug. I am glad I cared enough to let Levi learn everything he learned completely on his own. Fortunately, this type of life lesson can and does happen in a more formal learning setting.

Over the years, for the most part, I have created significant learning environments (CSLE) where I have given my boys and my students choice, ownership and voice through authentic opportunities (COVA). The reason I said “for the most part” is that giving over control is one of the hardest things a parent or teacher can do. We don’t want our kids to get hurt, or to struggle, or fail or get annoyed with us so we have the tendency to shield them in advance from the consequences of their actions and yet this is where the most significant learning can happen. Giving my boys and my students control over their own learning has been one of the biggest challenges of my personal and professional life.

The life lessons learned through taking full ownership of a learning opportunity cannot be matched by any form of direct instruction or teacher controlled experience. If we care enough for our learners we need to let go of the control and be willing to see them struggle, or fail or even get annoyed with us if we expect them to learn the life lessons that come about through taking full ownership of authentic learning opportunities. Both my boys have learned the value of authentic learning and while they do occasionally get annoyed with me it doesn’t happen much anymore because they have grown to appreciate the value in the struggles of taking ownership of their own learning.

Unfortunately, since many of my students are accustomed to a more traditional form of education which includes giving the teacher or professor what they want and regurgitating information in a simulated project, paper or exam, it is not uncommon to have some of my students annoyed or even angry with me because they feel that I may not be doing my job by not telling them what to do and think. I am willing to have them be annoyed with me because I care enough about their learning to know that if they take ownership and learn by working on something that is authentic then their learning will be transformative. I don’t just let my boys or my learners flounder without any guidance, I do give them guidance and direction through the learning environment that I create or that I point them to through authentic opportunities. The following quote from a recent graduate of the Digital Learning and Leading program where I use the COVA+CSLE approach sums up her experience and the value of this type of learning:

The DLL program shows you where to look, but does not tell you what to see – Brandi Collins

When we let our learners take control of their learning the experiences they can embrace, the meaningful connections they create, and the knowledge that they gain will be life changing. Isn’t this really our primary responsibility as parents and educators?

References

Collins, B. (2017). Highlights from Lamar University Masters program in Educational Technology [Blog]. Retrieved from http://madelinebrandicollins.weebly.com/digital-learning–leading.html

Ventura, M. (1993). Letters at 3am: Reports on endarkenment. Spring Pubns.

This past Saturday morning when I walked into our living room I couldn’t help noticing the large sheet of black ABS plastic that Caleb, my 19-year-old son, had acquired for his latest project.

ABS Sheet

Ever since Caleb was a toddler he has enjoyed creating things that would change and enhance his world. For the most part, he was just like every other young kid who loved playing with Lego and other toys but Caleb and his older brother Levi would migrate away from typical play and look for ways to improve their toys and their environment. Both my boys would use Lego and Kinex and other constructables (what I like to call toys that you can build things with) to make things that they could use for other purposes. Their desires quickly moved beyond using Lego and Kinex to using authentic resources to change their environment. For example, when my older son Levi was three he wanted to be able to pull his wagon with his bike and rather than just use a rope he wanted my help to rig up a hitch system which we created and he used and then passed onto his younger brother. Caleb was equally industrious and I have so many fond memories of heading down to the hardware store to gather the items my boys needed for their latest projects.

So when I saw the big piece of plastic I reminisced about Caleb’s passion for making things. I also thought about how my wife and I carefully nurtured and helped him and his brother develop their interests and created the environment in which they could fully develop their creative abilities and learn how to learn. If there was just one thing that I can point to that really made the difference it would have to be the use of authentic projects. While we didn’t deny our boys models, Lego, Knex and other constructables we also encouraged them to explore working on authentic projects. My boys were always working on something that was real and that would make an authentic difference in their world.

The bike hitch, bike ramps, countless other smaller projects, and the major fort project were just the starting point for exposing my boys to authentic learning. When I purchased and renovated a rental property the boys who were just 8 and 10 worked alongside me at every stage from cleaning up the junk in the yard to demolishing the basement rooms, to building new rooms and doing all the work that was necessary to bring the house into a state where it could be rented and then sold. Later that spring when the boys were still just 8 and 10 they planned out all the details of our month-long summer bike trip which included everything from getting the maps from the AMA, planning the route, to identifying what we could do along the trip to, where we would stay, and what we could do when we got to the interior of British Columbia. They put together a detailed binder that had all the information we would need. That first major biking holiday is still one of the most talked about trips that my boys will reminisce about. As professional DownHill Mountain bike racers and extreme athletes Levi and Caleb travel continuously so this early experience has served them well. The have spent the majority of their short lives working on authentic projects that not only enhance their lives but lives around them.

Authentic projects work because they not only give the learner choice and ownership over the world that they live in but they also give the learner the ability to find and use their voice and show the world what they have created. Caleb’s projects are getting very sophisticated and while the air splitter he created for his high-end sports car is not a project you would ask a novice to undertake Caleb is able to create a professional quality enhancement and add significant value to his car because he has lived a life filled with authentic projects.

Caleb FRS

The cognitive and analytic processes of prediction, modeling, experimentation, diagnosis, and problem-solving that Caleb experiences through his countless authentic projects has also contributed to his desire to take on in bigger and bigger challenges. I enjoy helping Caleb with his projects because his passion for learning and creation are contagious.

ABS Splitter In Progress

In our typical education rhetoric we talk about engagement, individualized instruction, and life-long learning but the reality of standardized testing or, if our learners are lucky, the occasional analysis of case-based studies offers our learners very little motivation for learning in the present, so how can we expect them to be excited about learning in the future. We can change this. But that means we have to give back control of the learning to the learner. We need to allow our learners to choose and work on authentic projects that will inspire their intrinsic passions for learning and help them grow their learner’s mindset. When we do this for our learners the possibilities of what they will be able to do are virtually limitless.

Caleb FRS with Splitter

Additional thoughts on Authentic Learning: