Thursday, August 20, 2009

Student as Hunter/Farmer

Yesterday I posted a Tweet considering using the metaphor of hunter or farmer for the student. @lauradoggett responded "Stephen Covey uses the metaphor of school as farm- very powerful. There are no shortcuts to deep learning." Based on Laura's response I did some additional research and found that Covey makes the argument that in school real learning often doesn't occur because students cram for their exams at the last moment. On a farm, however, there is no cramming. Every seed and animal must be nurtured to the fullest extent or they don't develop and produce to their potential. According to Covey, schools should ideally be treated as farms.

My main point in wanting to compare students to hunters or farmers is because I want students to be seen as the key actors. Hunters must chase their prey just as in an ideal educational setting students would chase knowledge. (Students cannot simply be spoonfed or the information won't be as meaningful to them.) After hunters catch their prey they use it in a variety of ways (sometimes the prey is put on the wall, other times it is barbecued, other times it is roasted). Similarly, after students acquire information they should use it in a variety of ways.

Though I unfortunately think that some people will be turned off the hunter metaphor, the farmer metaphor seems to neat and orderly to me. Learning is not a neat and orderly process. Instead it is the process of following clues from one point to another, just as hunters, and hunting dogs, often follow the scent of the quarry.

By the way, this idea is not meant to be fully fleshed out. It started as a Twitter reply to @lauradoggett and then I realzied that I could never convey a meaningful message on this topic in 140 characters or less.

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