Reflections on Last Week’s Class

Last week in EDCI 336, we watched a thought-provoking movie entitled “Most Likely to Succeed”, directed by Greg Whiteley. It challenged the methods and procedures of teaching common in most schools up until recently, which focussed on individual work completing worksheets, reading textbooks, and students cramming information into their brains just to be regurgitated onto a test a few weeks later, and promptly forgotten. I connected with this idea because this is is the school system I began in, and which began changing as I progressed from elementary into middle school.

The director of the film made the argument that inquiry-based learning and teaching students creative thinking is becoming more relevant as technology is slowing replacing humans in certain jobs or tasks. I’ve been noticing this in particular in self-serve checkouts at grocery stores. However, the film argues (and I agree) that technology is limited, and that there are certain jobs that will never be able to be replaced by technology because they require creative thinking and empathy, as just two examples. The film suggests that this is what teachers today should be focussing on teaching students to prepare them for the ever-changing workforce they will enter one day.

The film particularly highlighted how one high school in San Diego, California, has committed to teaching the whole student and encouraging creative thinking and inquiry-based learning over what the film called “test prep learning”. I was inspired by watching the students at this high school create and direct plays to connect their learning in social studies and ancient civilizations to current events and to drama. I also began to wonder, what would have it been like if I, as a Grade 4 or 5 student who spent a significant portion of my free time exploring the forest behind my backyard, would have been allowed to demonstrate what I was learning in the forest setting in a project at school? Would I have enjoyed elementary school more than I already did? Would I have learned more just for the sake of learning and not to try to see my grade rise to my standard of success?

This film prompted the wheels in my head to continue turning and thinking of ways that I can incorporate inquiry-based learning into my lessons with my future students and tap into their interests to create meaningful projects for them.

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