Exposure to New Ideas
In the top 10 questions I am asked on a regular basis, this one is probably number four:
“How do students get exposed to new ideas if they are not introduced to them by a teacher?”
It strikes me as an odd question, especially in this day and age. Personally, I’m introduced to new concepts every day, mostly via the Internet - whether it’s my news feed, Instagram, or a group chat with my friends. I almost can’t help but take in information. Students, all of them much more digitally fluent than I am, are similarly exposed to new ideas through a variety of channels every day.
In addition, we are all introduced to different subjects by living in a community at school. For example, last year we had a student that was very interested in costuming. She would set up her supplies in the Art Room and spend the day hot gluing while various people walked through the room and asked, “What are you doing?” She would tell them, and they would either move on with their day or hang out and watch her. Over time, more and more people started hanging out. Some of them even started making costumes of their own.
Exposure happens organically, without the need for anyone else to decide what is age-appropriate for someone to learn. I encounter knowledge in the same way - just today a student told me about the Goblin Shark, and I spent a very educational twenty minutes Googling this fascinating animal. In a traditional sense, I was the one being “taught” in this scenario, but what it really looked like was just two people having a conversation about something one of them was passionate about and the other was just learning. It happens naturally, without the need for structure or curriculum, and these “lessons” have the potential to last a lifetime.