While running today, I started thinking of how learning has changed since my time in elementary, middle, and high school as a student. I think education was approached a little like Jeopardy...memorization, drill, right/wrong, and maybe some creativity in there. The right answer and smartest kid in the room was celebrated. I didn't do poorly in this environment. I managed to be an A/B student, and I worked to connect what I was learning to what I perceived to be the "real world". I looked for the connection in the literature and physics to the world around me. I didn't always see these connections. And, my husband will tell you that while I was book smart, I didn't necessarily flourish in the practical smarts area! Years of teaching has since helped me grow into a more balanced learner.
I like to think that we've begun the transition into an educational model that celebrates the learning process a little like The Amazing Race. We value resourcefulness, problem-solving, intelligence, and ingenuity. We give students problems that have some foundation in the "Real World", and we try to connect them to the challenges around them. The exciting nature of life, challenges, and working as a community has become the springboard for our learning. At least in the classroom...I can't say much for those standardized tests.