Week Three: Student Centered Learning, Writing, and Complex Systems of Governance

Posted by Paul Wilkinson on 11/13/2022

As I went through student writing this weekend, I smiled because, in the past two weeks, we have made big steps toward better writing—and the better thinking that better writing supports. Snow, Election Day, and Veterans Day limited class meeting time last week, but we leveraged the time to build three critical points: 1) Better writing supports better thinking. 2) Notes and checklists free up working memory to support better thinking and more meaningful lives. 3) Complex systems of human interaction, such as the multi-faceted system of checks, balances, specialization, and levels of control created by the Constitution, apply not only to national governance but to all human relations. The week was one of those that puts the "social" in Social Studies.

If you get a chance, please ask your learner to pull up this quarter's Social Studies slides (there's a link in their Teams channel) and go over the slides for days 49 and 50. Are the points accurate? What examples or counter-examples can you share that might make the ideas more useful for your learner? How can your learner use the ideas to accelerate their learning, enjoy their learning more, or set or accomplish new goals?

And on a related topic, you may have received a message to families about a new online tool from the district, the Paper app. At our professional development meeting on Election Day, Mr. Bringhurst introduced Marce Herz teachers to the app. A few classes, including ours, started using the app the week before. We enjoyed looking at our students' interactions with the tutors who make the app work. This app represents a commitment to student-centered learning, which is increasingly necessary to sustain the relevancy of public education when we compete with continuously updated algorithms that compound user engagement by constantly testing content that serves creators' purposes—purposes that rarely include building thoughtful and virtuous citizens. Only real intelligence beats artificial intelligence, and the humans behind Paper are committed to using real intelligence to build children's minds.

This week, we'll apply what we've learned this year from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to create our own Declaration of Learning Independence and Classroom Constitution. Students can experience drafting and amending processes like those used by the signers of the Declaration and the framers of the Constitution. By the current age of our students today, many signers and framers were well into learning the classical ideas from antiquity, credited as the intellectual foundation of the Declaration and Constitution. We will get there, too.