“Mastery based learning changes the mindset of the student. An 85% on a test doesn’t brand a child as a B student in their DNA, but impresses them to keep trying, to persevere, to take ownership of their learning.” Sal Kahn, TED Talk, November 2015
Because most of us, as educators, have only our experience in traditional academic models to rely on, we often use that understanding to model our home educating experiences. There is often little reason to challenge these ideas, they are so deeply ingrained in us. Then a wrench falls into the gears of our finely tuned system of education: a slow reader, a math struggler or just a squirrely 6 year old, and suddenly there are waves of discontent. Maybe we recognize that for all we are pouring into the system in the form of money, time and energy, very little progress seems to be happening in the area of learning. Instead of a growing level of curiosity, we are faced with strong resistance and that leaves us with a great big question mark. I am so thankful for these points in time! These are the moments of revelation that require me to throw out the old expectations and open my eyes to new possibilities. I am forced to truly see my students for who they are and consider their needs as individuals. I must challenge my expectations, motives and techniques to birth new methods fine-tuned to the child before me, instead of enslaved to tradition, the unrelateable systems of the past.
This is what excites me about this TED Talk by Sal Kahn, of Kahn Academy as he speaks on Mastery based learning. His presentation makes the point that classroom teaching is not conducive to this approach, but I think it’s a beautiful approach for home schoolers. Let’s throw out the August to May schedules that come with the curriculum! Let’s not panic when we come to a lesson that needs a week of investigation and practice, instead of its allotted day! Let’s break the shackles of a system that doesn’t apply to us by ceasing the practice of dragging students through their journey of learning! Instead, let’s practice some respect and embrace the amazing little individuals before us. Let’s run alongside them as their coach as they set the pace for their learning adventure and develop character of fortitude and responsibility.
It’s worth a watch and I hope you will let me know your thoughts.