Keeping The End In Mind

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Being 24 years old, the world is my oyster.  I could literally do anything with my life.  Where do I go tomorrow, what will I be doing in a year, where will I be when I am 30?  So many paths to choose and I am left paralyzed.  Instead, I try to focus on what I want out of life: to leave my mark on the world and to help people be successful through meaningful relationships.  Even though what I want out of life is still a little fuzzy, focusing on the end calms my nerves and allows me not to worry about how I will get there.

Today I came across a book titled Beginning Javascript (or something like that).  Learning how to code has been on my mind for some time, and my mind instantly thought about the reading required to master the first skill, then the next, then the next.  I turned to my roommate who is good with computers (to say the least) and asked “Where do I even start? What do I need?”  His response was simple.  “What do you want to make?”

This blew my mind.

We take take a similar approach to learning in education, worrying about all of the different ways to teach students and never take the time to ask the question – what do we want our students to be able to make/ create?  We plan the skills we will teach, but not the problems they will help solve.  I think that it is time we stop looking at learning as a set of unconnected and truncated skills and start asking students what they want to create. Our job changes from giving directions to giving support and allows students to figure out what learning means to their lives.

When students look at school through the lens that learning is a list of things teachers ask them to remember they are overloaded and paralyzed at the amount of work that is before them.  They realize only after notes, homework, tests, and papers will they have the opportunity to create and do something meaningful.  If instead we ask them what they want out of life and help them fill in the pieces, I believe we will have motivated students eager to ask for our help.  The importance lies not in how to get there but having the end in mind.  If we want students who think, we have to let them.