Educational goals and long-term thinking
“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Bezos told Wired in 2011. “But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that." — The Jeff Bezos School of Long-Term Thinking @ 99U
Part of the problem with how we think about children and learning is our focus on very short periods of time.
If you prioritize a “well-rounded education,” you have to preplan everything, label it, chop it up into smallish chunks, and then distribute it across the time you’ve allotted — usually a nine-month school year.
If you have to fragment your learning goals and pour them into your schedule first, then you will have a difficult time fitting in a self-directed, long-term project.
If self-directed learning is a goal, you have to fit that big rock in first. Set aside the idea of a nine-month “school year” and forget about artificially separating out subject areas (history, literature, science). Prioritize slow learning. Focus on holistic learning. Instead of requiring X amount of a certain subject area each week/month/year, measure it over a more generous period of time — say, two or three years. Look at your child’s long-term project work (no planning ahead) and make your authentic assessment then:
What was read?
What was written?
What experiments were planned?
What knowledge was gathered?
What was built/created?
What was shared?
What habits were formed?
What learning was accomplished?
You may find your child is getting a balanced educational diet and requires very little adult-directed supplementation. But you won’t know unless you try. And it requires a leap of faith: a belief that child-directed learning is complex, multilayered, and inherently multidisciplinary.
Investing in your child’s education and taking a long view — giving them time to grow and develop interests, ideas, and plans over months and even years — allows your child to achieve something most schoolchildren never experience: deep, authentic engagement.
There are three levels of learning in project-based homeschooling:
One way we can help our children get to those deeper levels is by developing a long-term mindset toward meeting authentic learning goals.
The short-term, preplanned, fragmented form of education was created to fit a particular schedule. Once you break free from that schedule, you can hack that method of learning as well. Living a learning life means you have the freedom and time to fill it with something more meaningful.