At the end of last week I received a collections of books from the Foxfire Foundation. I am currently reading From Thinking to Doing, The Foxfire Core Practices, Constructing a Framework to Teach Mandates Through Experience-Based Learning, (2002) by Bobby Ann Starnes and Angela Carone. The book is coil bound and self-published by the Foxfire Fund, Inc., in Mountain City Georgia.
I first read about the Foxfire approach when searching the internet for different models of delivering alternate education. I am now on page 30 of 169, and I just read the section on the characteristic features of entry points into a more facilitative style of teaching. The fourth step is engaging in systematic reflection throughout the process, and this post is my starting this process.
Why am I looking at Foxfire? The idea of using “learners’ authentic interests and concerns to gain entry into the curriculum” (p. 16) may answer what I see as the pressing concern facing my education practice and education in Canada in general: student apathy. Everyone wants to learn. I believe that. However, by the time students are in high school many have difficulty articulating anything that they are interested in learning. Learning has become associated with being force-fed facts and figures whose application to students’ real lives is tenuous at best. Learning should be connected to solving authentic problems, not just seemingly endless hoops to jump through on the way to graduation.
Today I asked a student “what would you like to learn if you could pick anything.” He could not come up with anything, but it started an interesting conversation about canoeing on the Fraser River. I think that this process can not be rushed if it is going to be authentic.