The Best Students: On Lectures and Learning

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I was one of the really good students in school. I paid attention. I wasn't disruptive (much). I answered and asked questions. I turned in my homework. I tested just fine. I also sat in the front when I wasn't assigned a seat in the back.

I was one of the best students in my class. This was proved by my grades, the ways my teachers interacted with me, and the fact that I graduated Valedictorian <cough>.

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with other people in the area who are interested in using social media for business. As people filed in, I realized I could probably guess who was successful in school. They would be the people who paid attention, weren't disruptive, and answered and asked questions.

That morning there were about 60 people in attendance. Only a handful made it onto my "best students" list.

And yet... the rest of the group was obviously there for a reason. Muffins and coffee are hardly motivation to get up early on a weekend and sit in an "interactive lecture" for a couple of hours.

It struck me that the classroom model rewards only a few students based (largely?) on their personality and their ability/willingness to jump through hoops. But many of my friends don't fit into this "best student" model. They are brilliant, wonderful people, but they don't match the specific requirements to be one of the top students. And the majority of the business people sitting in the room with me were also, I'm guessing, not great students. And yet, here they are, on the cutting edge of technology working for themselves or in a field they love.

With homeschooling, as we study and read and discuss and learn together, the question of "who are the best students?" rightly fades into the background. That almost meaningless comparison is overshadowed by a question: What does this student need to be successful?

Notice the shift in focus? One is about how the student fits the educational model, the other asks how the model can best benefit the student.

Homeschooling is an excellent educational option because it allows us to focus on the needs and strengths of the student. And that is much more important than figuring out who should get a piece of paper with "Valedictorian" stamped on it.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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