School’s Out For Summer!

Nancy White

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Student To Learner

What brings joy into the hearts of students worldwide? Summertime! The simple phrase and realization that “school’s out for summer!” brings a sense of freedom and possibility for exploration and discovery that seems lacking during the school year.

What if school was more about exploration and discovery, and we could provide more opportunity for our students to find the same joy that summertime presents while still guiding them through the learning that needs to happen to keep them on track for their future?

I have had the opportunity to work with many groups of students, teachers, and parents throughout my education career to explore and identify what it is that students love about learning, and what they wish they could do more of in school. Students always provide the same responses, looking something like the table above.

An interesting conversation with adult groups I’ve had the opportunity to lead multiple times involves asking them to reflect on their most powerful and memorable learning experiences. After sharing these experiences with each other in small groups, they are asked to make a list of common elements of the learning that were shared. Guess what? The list that adults make about these powerful learning experiences is identical to the list that today’s students express.

So, we know what students want, but another interesting thing to note is how these powerful learning experiences are also exactly what students need to develop the skills desired by employers: creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem solving. This builds the case for designing learning that students love, that can help them capture the joy of summertime all year long, while learning and developing skills that are essential for their future. With this type of learning, students have maximum potential to transform into learners!

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