A member of my #PLN recently Tweeted a wonderful question that sums up my attitude toward education and what I believe may be the rotten core of our education system: What proportion of time do your students spend consuming, curating, and creating content?
Scott Friedman (@irishscott) pointed out the 1-9-90 rule which is that 1% of students create information, 9% curate information, and 90% consume information. If that is not enough to break your heart as an educator then you are in the wrong business. I think this is one of the many reasons (even perhaps a primary one) that I hate our national testing obsession. Not only do most tests tell us very little real information about students, they do not tell us what the students are learning and, most important of all, they do not tell us what the students are capable of doing with the lessons the students have learned. What good is content, what good is information, what good are facts, if you cannot apply that knowledge and create with that knowledge?
I believe that both consumption and curation are important parts of education and lifelong learning, but neither should be a stop sign. Instead I would like to think about them as the incline warning posted on mountain highways so truck drivers know they will need to shift gears. Or perhaps they are simply a warning that past a certain point there are no exits so we need to fill our tank and hit the restroom now. Or maybe my metaphor isn’t really holding up very well.
My point is that consumption and curation are essential, but too often our system focuses far too much on consumption and uses curation as the end destination at best. If we want students to engage in learning then we must give them the freedom to create. If we want students to learn rather than memorize then we must give them the freedom to create. If we want students to succeed in life then we must give them the freedom to create. It is creation that develops and demonstrates the higher order communication and thinking skills that are so desirable.
How do your students spend their time in your classroom? How much freedom do you give them to create as well as curate and consume information? There are many wonderful resources out there for educators willing to move beyond the focus on content consumption. Passion projects, genius hour, and project-based learning communities provide a wealth of resources and examples as well as eager support. Together we can flip the 1-9-90 rule!