Within just over a week I have made it from the start to assessment in week 4. Being able to move ahead as I like is a particularly interesting feature of the program. I have, however, noticed that I am motivated by grading and assessment, any item that is not graded I only complete if i find it intellectually interesting to do so. This I think is an interesting difference between face to face learning and online learning. Something that might warrant further examination (do online learners participate in optional activities when they find them intellectually stimulating – what are the parameters for participation in voluntary activities?).
Here is my reflection:
- How has your experience of school shaped you as a learner, and as an adult?
My experience of formal schooling has focused me as a learner who is reward and achievement driven, essentially driven by achievement of “success” as defined by high grades and approval of grading staff. This focus on “success” has meant that in a formal educational setting, like high school or university, my learning is very strategic and goal driven. I focus on those elements that will gain me the most marks, all other aspects, no matter how entertaining or interesting are usually of little consequence. I am highly unlikely to complete any activity that is not rewarded through assessment. I think this probably makes me similar to 99% of the students that have come out of the Australian schooling system (I suspect that my successful completion of primary and high school has trained me to behave in this way). However, I also think that this means that good topic design and good articulation of activities to intended learning outcomes is imperative – if assessment is not well designed then students who think this way are likely not to learn the majority of the program (no matter how good it is for them) instead they will be strategic.
This is in stark contrast to my activity as an adult learner. As an adult learner in vocational contexts, or hobbies, my learning is in order to achieve master over a particular subject or skill. It is not driven by grades or acclaim, rather it is driven by an internal need to fully understand and master the activity that I am undertaking. I think that this is particularly interesting as it means that I have developed a variety of learning approaches depending on the purpose and environment of the learning/study.
- In what ways do you think your own schooling could have been improved?
I think that my schooling would have befitted from less focus on “success” and more on the development of broader skill sets. Although I am considered to be successful, there are many areas (often VET/Skill based) that I have had no exposure to because these did not fit with the image of a “successful” student within my schooling.
- and what priorities do you think are the most important for schools today?
This is an interesting question asking “what priorities” are most important for schools is not necessarily the same as asking what priorities I think schools should have for themselves.
I think within the context of the country that I live in there is a strong emphasis on evidencing student learning through uniform testing and grading. In this system primary and secondary students in defined years are tested via nationally prescribed literacy and numeracy tests. After compilation this data is then published on the MySchool website. Beyond the national literacy and numeracy test data, the site contains “…information on the type of school; student and staff numbers; student attendance rate; background information on the student body; vocational education and training enrolments and completed qualifications; students who complete Year 12; what students do after leaving school; [and] school financial information”. This online database is searchable by school or location/suburb.
Interestingly this process of, essentially, “naming and shaming” schools entrenches the same reward “success” seeking behaviour within schools that I was indoctrinated in as a student within those schools. I think this is fascinating because it does not lead to these schools producing well rounded people who understand how to become good members of a community, rather it leads to directed, strategic bottom-liners. I think that for me it would be more useful if schools (primary
and lower secondary) focused on providing essential literacy and numeracy combined with broad experiences that would allow their students to become useful and fulfilled members of their community. At middle secondary and higher secondary schools should focus more heavily on life skills and academic progression. At University they should focus on thinking and doing with the emphasis on the development of new knowledge (for all levels not just PhD).