Friday 4ALL: Looking Backward to Build the Future

One-room schoolhouse
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Besides my daily duties as an eMINTS Instructional Specialist (eIS), I have hobbies and interests outside education. It’s a rare day when one of these interests actually intersects my work. One such hobby that has crossed my work desk has to do with my interest in craft beer. Yes, that’s correct. I’m trying to make a connection with beer and education.

Before you skip this blog post, hear me out.

Below is a TED talk from craft brewer Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery. Caligione, besides founding one of the most inventive breweries in craft beer, is an accomplished writer and industry advocate. He’s a self-made success, something we all hope for our students. His talk focuses on the idea of looking backward to build the future. Watch the video (20 minutes) and scroll below to see how I’ll relate this to education.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that we can find many solutions to current issues in education by looking backward. As Caligione explains, he had to look back and then look back even further to find a model that spelled success for him and Dogfish Head. Consider the following ways we can look backward to build the future:

  • When classrooms were more teacher-centered, direct instruction was used with more frequency. Direct instruction is still an important approach when a specific process must be used to complete a task.
  • In the one-room schoolhouses of yesteryear, learning was a community effort. Older students helped younger students to the point that these students often grew into their own teaching positions. How can older or more capable students help those who struggle?
  • Many children would learn their trade working as an apprentice to a skilled craftsman. Are there ways we can creat apprenticeships for our students or find them mentors to help guide them in meeting their goals?
  • Since the beginning of time, people have learned by doing, experimenting. Finding a way to feed off this natural inclination we have to learn by doing could be the key to new understandings among our students.

All of the answers to our educational quandaries are not always found in new approaches. Sometimes, we have to look back to move forward. How have you looked to the past in order to build for the future with your students?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and is an avid craft beer enthusiast and home-brewer.