Last post was about my individualized instruction curriculum regarding woodworking projects.
As a young, naive teacher I believed that any kid could motivate themselves to learn anything if they had a goal that they had decided on. If a kid decided he wanted to build a gun cabinet, he would be motivated to do the research on how to build the gun cabinet.
I was shaped and influenced by having my peak learning years aligned with the novelty of the information age and taught myself many things through YouTube. I decide that's just how kids learned, because that's how I learned.
Unfortunately, the individualized goal definitely does not provide all of the motivation to complete a project.
There's a few barriers I had yet to recognize and many of these barriers were exposed in my individualized instruction practices.
1: You can't design with intent, if you haven't consciously experienced the majority of the methods used within your medium.
I don't have a strong woodworking background prior to teaching. I took a class in college as part of my coursework. The instructor reviewed wood joinery and then laughed, mocked the former teacher, and said. "I could just have you all make samples of these pictures. That's what the old teacher did."
As a student, I couldn't help but feel..."Actually, that would kinda help me."
I've never had students make simply "practice joints" with no application, but I have asked students to solve their own design challenges without ever having true experience with the application of a rabbet joint, or a box joint. "They'll just look it up on YouTube," I thought, or "I'll expose them just-in-time."
That's not a thing. Yes, they've chose their own goal, but only because a teacher asked them to. And it's a goal within the confines of shop class. Maybe it'd be different if they could run and manage a can drive for the homeless, who knows? And if they are motivated by the fact that it's a shop project, they are even more so going to limit their design to what they know. Learning a new technique and applying that same technique to work that 100% has our name on it... breeds a lack of confidence.
2. Autonomy increases motivation; Low confidence decreases motivation
After receiving critical feedback from me about their ideas and techniques they really wouldn't know of existing, as well as having nearly full autonomy for the first time in their school career, confidence is at a paralyzing low.
So that curriculum I shared last week? My younger self would tell you, "Yeah, man, that's how kids need to learn. Free inquiry. Let them explore"
I've finely tuned my philosophy of education much since then. Free inquiry has a place. So do practice wood joints. My biggest criticism with the curriculum I've posted is I always presented it too early. Below is a picture that nails exactly what I mean by that:
The other criticism I have on my own curriculum has to do with fostering creativity and the ways I've gone about that. I'm still developing my thoughts on that, but essentially I can just tell I haven't quite 'stuck it' yet. A post on that to come.