From the very beginning of a learner’s time at The Village School, he or she is in an environment that is focused on skill-building- not meeting academic standards. We describe this as the difference between learning to learn and learning to know– the latter, the primary focus of traditional education. (Don’t get me wrong, our young people learn about a lot of really amazing and interesting things, it’s just that accumulating knowledge of facts and figures is not our focus).
It might start like this: In Spark Studio, learning to learn might be as simple as staying focused for 10 minutes on a task. In Discovery Studio this looks like learning how to set SMART goals consistently, how to navigate the systems in a learner-driven community, and how to take responsibility for their choices. In Adventure Studio, our learners rely on these skills to thrive in the face of challenging work, high standards, and real-world projects.
By Middle School (Adventure Studio), our learners are well-versed in the three main obstacles they face in accomplishing their goals: Distraction, Resistance, and Victim-hood. Most importantly, they can identify which one they struggle with the most.
“Resistance- or as I call it, procrastination is always my biggest obstacle,” said one Adventure learner recently.
“I would say distraction is mine. I will often stop and help others. I like doing this but sometimes it distracts me from my own work,” said another learner.
Being self-aware is a start. Building even one good habit that works to counter these tendencies, or at least keep them in balance, is a step in the right direction. Having an arsenal of “learning to learn” skills AND a Heroic mindset is the ultimate toolbox that will allow our learners to “punch procrastination in the face”, as one of our learners humorously declared.
But, building this toolbox is hard work and our young people are still adding these tools. Some sessions they might stop at awareness. Another session they may develop one new positive habit- like planning out their week on Sunday, submitting their work before it is due, or blocking out “do not disturb” times to minimize distractions.
Other sessions, for one reason or another, these self-identified obstacles loom large and our learners struggle. They struggle with finding focus, creating quality work, and/or meeting deadlines. They struggle with facing the consequences of their choices, with linking the chain reaction of events, of identifying how one thing led to another. They struggle with embracing that hero’s mindset.
But, they are building skills here too.
Just like in the real world. Sometimes we manage to “punch procrastination in the face” and sometimes we don’t.