I recently read a post from a blogger Gxeremio. He wrote:
Maybe we’re trying too hard to make education meaningful, when people left to their own devices will naturally seek to learn things that are meaningful to them. I know, I know.. state-mandated testing means there are a lot of things we HAVE to teach, whether they’re meaningful to students or not. But perhaps, by adopting the model of Google Corporation, public schools could still manage to teach the arbitrary core curriculum while it also creates and empowers learners.
Google is well known among job-seekers for its incredible perks. You can get a taste of some of what they offer by watching this video clip, originally aired on Oprah. Google employees generally, and engineers especially, enjoy an amazing array of distilled love from their employer: free meals, on-site health care, generous vacation time, shuttle service, and intramural athletics, to name just a few. These benefits combine to encourage employees to work harder, longer, and better because they want to, not because they have to. Of course, it all helps to attract and retain top-notch employees, too.
One particularly cool benefit for engineers is “20 percent time.” They must use 20% of their work week to develop projects and follow passions that were not assigned to them by their superiors. What a cool idea to increase motivation and produce some outside-the-box innovation.
Could we do this in school? Ok, maybe not the free meals and more vacation. But howabout the 20% of each week to explore something you love. Hmmmm….now we still would have to get through a mandated curriculum. What if we cranked for four days each week and on the fifth day we used Friday to “develop projects and follow passions that were not assigned to them.” Makes you stop and think doesn’t it. What would this look like in school. Could it be done? What would the administration say? What would parents say? I know my answer, and I am sure I know the student’s answer. A chance for students to work self-directed on something that they are passionate about — sounds like common sense to allow it to happen. That creativity and passion would surly drip over into other areas of their life lifting their achievement across the board.