Self-directed, project-based learning

Why do educated people too often fall for foolish scams and conspiracy theories?

The problem is that no one taught us to understand. Instead, we are pushed to simply to memorize. To be educated enough to do well on the test, and then to forget what we were taught, because we never actually learned it.

Understanding opens the door to insight and to comfort with the data. Understanding is the platform we need to go to the next level… memorizing is a fragile house of cards, with no foundation. And the compliance mindset of “will this be on the test?” simply sets us up to believe the next thing that we’re supposed to learn.

We now have a chance to turn this fall’s back-to-school (in the Northern Hemisphere) into self-directed, project-based learning instead of a rush toward compliance and butts in chairs and pencils on tests. Shipping the project, proving it works and then doing it again. Learning by doing. Self-direction unlocks our ability to contribute for a lifetime, whereas preparing for the test ensures that we will always be at the mercy of the person who is giving the test. People are not entitled to their own facts–and understanding helps us discover the ones that matter.

From the age of five, many kids are capable of self-directed, project-based learning if we’re willing to turn off the TV and accept that the process won’t immediately lead to sought-after standardized test results. We can create a pattern of teaching people to be curious because curiosity is an engine for learning… it is less predictable but far more powerful than the current alternative: Creating a desire to get it over with combined with the ability to believe whatever the person in power tells us to believe.

Learning opens the door to the future we’d like to live in.


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