Saturday, November 28, 2015

Metacognition: When Students Read and Write about Education

Enjoying my Thanksgiving dinner, and being thankful for students' reading, thinking, and writing about education.

"To what extent does school serve the goal of a true education?" That has been one of the essential questions for our current AP Language unit on education. We read and discussed the rhetoric and argument of thinkers from the classic transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson to the civil rights activist James Baldwin to the modern young adult author Sherman Alexie (see last week’s blog for the full list of readings). 

Over this Thanksgiving vacation, I’ve read the rough drafts of the synthesis papers my AP Language students wrote in response to the unit. Among the many things I’m thankful for is what I saw in these papers: students’ thinking, and the ways they are invested in their own education in school and beyond. Here are some of their rough draft thoughts:

  • Education takes place anywhere if one desires to learn to feed their mind, and school should be the one place to guide students to the world of knowledge, and to undock their hidden skills, interests, and enthusiasm. 
  • My definition of education is the teaching of basic concepts of learning (such as study habits, time-management, and organization) and applying them to help people thrive during adulthood.
  • Although getting satisfying grades is a splendid achievement, there is much more to education than being best in class or receiving that ideal 4.0 GPA. To receive a proper education, one must have a true desire to learn. Education is here to form one’s foundation—to help one have the knowledge to look at the world from their own perspective and have the ability to identify something as simple as right from wrong, or even something a little more complex such as who they should vote for in a presidential election….
  • True education allows a person to develop their worldview, sharpen and shape their natural talent, and enables them to distinguish fact from fiction. It is a lifelong process that never ends, only changes with age.
  • Education should be an institution to set a foundation in hopes of giving the opportunity for people to think for themselves, rather than spitting back out information they received, and to actually process and formulate their own thoughts.

I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to work with such thoughtful young people. Next week we will further craft and polish the arguments and rhetoric, but for now, I hope they are making wise choices to learn gratitude by enjoying the many gifts of a holiday weekend. That’s what I’m about to do, anyway, and I hope you are, too.

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