Ira Socol, Reminders, and Risk Taking

Although I’ve tried to follow along with the twitter chats and the live streams for IMMOOC, I’ve found it a bit difficult to keep up with the blog prompts. Often, this arose from trying to make each blog post as polished as possible, but instead would result in blog posts never actually fully being finished and posted. This struggle was nicely put into words by a quote I recently saw on George Couros’ blog: “Perfect is the enemy of done”. So, with inspiration from the blogpost challenge from week 3 and Anya Smith’s own personal previous challenge of posting daily for 100 days straight, I’m going to try to post a blog post daily.

Adobe Spark-5

After seeing it on George Couros’ twitter, I recently read a blogpost written by educator Ira Socol. In the post, Socol discussed the differences between project-based, problem-based, and passion-based learning.

Often, when I think about project-based learning, it sounds great just saying it. Having the opportunity to do independent study courses this year made me realize that I love having time to independently and collaboratively work on projects centered around something that I’m curious and excited about. But this isn’t actually just project-based learning. Nor is it just problem-based learning. Although yes, we are engaged in a long term project focused on trying to design some sort of remedy to a problem, this learning, and the learning that we want to try to encourage through curiosity, is not just centered around projects and problems, but is centered around passion. And passion cannot grow without curiosity. Making learning centered around student passion rather than just around making mindlessly or solving problems without interest is important to remember for our project.

We want to truly innovate, not just keep filling air in the tire of an outdated but still working school system.



In his post, Socol writes “’What I want’, the principal of our largest elementary school told me last week, ‘is for everyone on my faculty to be the expert on something. Our kids would have homeroom teachers as advisors and supporters, but then they’d spend most of the day going to wherever they needed to work on their projects’. And that would be a true maker school — a school developing truly successful, happy humans in adulthood”.

This is suuuper different from school (or at least the school as a whole that we learn in). Although as students we are advocates for student/passion centered learning, it makes me immediately jump to the questions “But would students be learning all that they could? Are things left out? Would students not be pushed enough?” Although this type of learning is what I love, this is scary because it’s different. But continuing to use the same model because it simply succeeds in teaching information is not truly preparing students to be the best humans they can be. This is not 21st century learning. Like I mentioned in the last post, without risk taking, innovation or something new and better, can never happen.

Near the end of the post, Socol wrote “Real Maker (referring to creating “Maker” schools) doesn’t come from kits or recipes. It isn’t learned by attending a one day lecture. You can’t buy it on Amazon”.

This is interesting considering that right now, we are working on making something like this. I don’t think we’re trying to make an exact recipe or to-do list for a maker school, but rather create something that helps put a spotlight on and encourage curiosity in school. This won’t be a recipe or a step by step process, but some sort of open spark, guide, or tool.

Socol’s post was a reminder to remember why we wanted to start this project in the first place. We wanted to try to help encourage curiosity in school. For school to be a place that sparks learner’s curiosity, not extinguishes it. It was also a reminder to be fearless in taking risks as we move on to the ideation phase of the design process because we won’t be able to innovate without it.

I’m excited for what new, messy, and exciting ideas the future holds.


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