We are over two months into our school year and have reached one of the first challenges in establishing our new Lights Academy learning program at Lutheran High School. To explain what is happening, let me provide an illustration.
I know someone who lives overseas that is overwhelmed by what they find at grocery stores in the U.S. Where they live there may be just a few choices for an item, such as cereal. However, when they shop in a U.S. grocery store, the number of choices are astounding -- so many that it becomes stressful to make a decision. When I shared this thought with my class, one student spoke up about how having so many choices is "awesome."
This is similar to the issue I am experiencing with project based learning within Lights Academy. There are some Academy members who embrace the opportunity of choices. They love having all these options for inquiry. Despite this attitude, others are challenged by these same choices, finding it stressful and overwhelming, struggling to figure out what path to choose.
With these students, I do not seem to have done a good job instilling the joy of inquiry for learning's sake, not for the sake of a grade. There are so many fascinating questions to explore, but for a subset in the Academy, this is stressful. They are used to having all the expectations created by the teacher and then fulfilling them with excellence. They are struggling to break that mindset. In other words, "doing school" is so ingrained in their experience that it is difficult to explore the joy of learning simply for its own sake. They are used to pleasing others in learning and not exploring for their own learning pleasure.
I want EVERY Lights Academy student to love learning and inquiry, to be excited to have the chance to follow their interests and passions. Choice is something to embrace, not something to fear. I will working to better support and communicate this to the group. I will be seeking ways to help all Academy members to embrace this joy in the coming weeks.
If you have any helpful thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to share them as a comment to this post.