So often in education we expect students to learn factual knowledge and thinking skills, without any reference to the context in which the knowledge and skills are utilised. As parents and educators this leaves us open to the question “How am I going to use this in real life?” School is inherently a structured and managed environment, but it is ‘real life’ none the less.
One of our hopes for every NBCS student is that they develop a love of learning, and that they come to expect that learning to continue throughout their life. Work can be hard, and it is important to develop work-skills in an environment that suits a student’s development and allows for that learning to occur at an appropriate pace.
When we are able to bring the adult world of work into a child’s learning, we create a much richer and more meaningful learning experience. As adults we usually learn new things when there is a need. If we are learning a new hobby, we have created the need to learn. At work, the need to learn is usually created through the work that we do. If educators can link knowledge and skills to the world of work then we have created an authentic learning experience. Sometimes in pursuing authentic learning we have to be content with a simulation or an approximation, but sometimes we can create situations where students inform and contribute to the adult world of work.
In many of our units of work at NBCS, students are asked to develop and sell a product to a market. They are asked to develop and explain an invention; to create and showcase creative items; to manage deadlines for multiple projects; manage large amounts of information; and to communicate effectively. This is authentic learning.
Mr Mark Burgess