I’ve written about this notion before – the idea that time IS the currency of education. The more time we have, the more we can learn, and in most cases, we never feel as though we have enough time to teach and learn all we want*.
Here’s where Godin makes me think:
We have deadlines for a reason, but the key word is ‘dead’. In fact, you don’t have to wait for the deadline or get anywhere near it, especially if you want to speed things up.
Too often, we find ourselves using the deadline as the lever to overcome our fear. If you’re relying on drop dead dates to push yourself, the project is paying a price.
Do we slow kids down by creating deadlines? Do kids moderate themselves because something is not due until “then”? What if we didn’t set due dates?
Well, that’s what we do at VLACS. As a fully competency-based school, we allow our students to work at a pace that meets their social and intellectual demands. Take a look at the images to the left (images courtesy of Steve Kossakoski, CEO of VLACS). The top shows the relative ability of three students to meet the academic expectations (competencies) of a course. The Red student is able to meet the competencies the quickest, while the Blue student needs more time. But, in a system based on due dates and deadlines, the only student perfectly matched to the system is the Green student. Green is the only student able to meet the competencies at the exact time we designated by creating a due date. Red met the competencies a while ago; Blue has not met them…yet.
But, what if we eliminated due dates? What if we stopped putting a stop watch on learning? What if we allowed students to be able to meet competencies at a pace that best meets their social and intellectual needs? What if we freed ourselves of the boundaries time place on our ability to teach and learn. Does it really matter if the Red student meets the competencies a month before the Blue student? (Answer: only if that month is July or August.)
I can tell you that some of our students at VLACS do take more than the standard 36 weeks to finish a course. I can also tell you that some of our students complete their course in less than the standard 36 weeks. I can promise you that all students are meeting competencies regardless of how long the course takes.
But, as long as education continue to rely on arbitrary calendars, due dates, and deadlines, individual learning will continue to be secondary.
*if we are truly passionate about learning something, will we ever have enough time?