The learning environment

The learning environment

In Raising Creativity, a range of different settings constitute the backdrop from video to video. Because this series deals with education in its broadest conception, it is intentional that the scenes in which my narration take place do not only show the traditional classroom, as this post will explain.

.    The first video in the series which provides an introduction and rationale for the documentary was shot in my grade 7 classroom (I work in a 15-year-old public middle school in a suburban area of Ontario). In my opinion, the scenes that appear are very typical of what one would expect to find in today’s publicly funded schools—blackboards, desks, lockers, tiled floors, bookshelves. Nothing too fancy, nothing outside the mental images one instantly conjures up at the idea of what school looks like. But this documentary is not about school, per se. It’s about education, and there is an enormous difference between schooling and education (Ricci, 2009). So, in the second video I am purposely switching it up to show no classroom scenes. Having already visually and stereotypically established what the documentary is about in video number 1, I need to round out that explanation by presenting the other end of the educational spectrum—that is, education that stays as far away from the traditional model as possible. A proponent and contributing founder of the unschooling movement, John Holt (1969) posited that “living is learning” (n.p.), which is to say that learning is a byproduct of simply living life. If this is so (and I definitely agree that it is), then I could literally choose anywhere for the setting of the next video and it would be appropriate: the grocery store, the movie theatre, the bank, a farm, a home, et cetera. The advent of mobile computing (e.g., Smartphone technology) reinforces the notion of every environment being conducive to learning by virtue of our now ubiquitous accessibility of information. The Smartphone will actually be showcased in the next video for this reason. That said, I have chosen to film at the Muskoka river for its complete dissimilarity to my classroom (i.e., the last backdrop) and for its beauty and calming effect. Again, I do not think of schooling as being particularly calming (think testing, bells, regulations, standards, coercive teaching strategies, symptomatic misbehaviour, etc.), but I do think of education as inherently calming, inspiring, edifying, reflexive, peaceful, productive, and paradoxically stimulating. In the latter scenario, learning occurs by way of life; in the former, learning is objectively manipulated (though not necessarily achieved) in spite of life. In the videos still to come (#3–5), the backdrops will vacillate from typical school scenes to vastly alternative scenes and everything in between. Ultimately this variety of settings all function as visual devices for reinforcing the documentary’s focus: alternate conceptions of education.

 

References

Holt, J. (1969). How children learn. New York, NY: Dell.
.
Ricci, C. (2009). Claiming our democratic rights. Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning
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.      3(5). Retrieved April 19, 2009, from http://www.nipissingu.ca/jual/Archives/V315/v3152.pdf

Posted by Rebecca Zak

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