Learning can be standards-based OR fun. But not both.

Unfortunately, that’s the perception held by many facilitating learning experiences in the world of education today.

I was reminded of this classic paradox when conversing with fellow educators in a STEM session at #edcamporangeNC on Saturday, April 14th, 2018.

Educator ONE: All learning experiences–especially STEM–must begin with the standards in mind. Our lessons must be standards-based. STEM is about designing with a purpose. We must begin with the end in mind.

Educator TWO: No. We need more fluff lessons so that kids can have fun. We need kids to be engaged and excited. We need kids to care about what they’re learning. Then, IF possible, work backwards to integrate the standards at the end. We might end with the beginning in mind.

My Response: After much back-and-forth, I finally asked:

Why not BOTH?

Why is it that when hearing the phrase standards-based learning, images of students sitting in desks-and-rows; absorbing boring, abstract, impersonal content; and learning thru archaic methods come to most people’s minds?

Why is it that when people hear words like fun, engaging, and hands-on learning, many picture a free-for-all experience of sorts, where learning just goes with the whatever flow, with no real takeaways, substantial roots, or defined purposes–to the extent of calling it fluff time?

I think that one of the true challenges in education today is facilitating experiences that are meaningful, memorable, and student-centered, while still learning standards.

Why not BOTH?