Thursday, April 12, 2012

Caine's Arcade - What Happened During a Summer Freed From Texts, Tests, & Teachers

Coauthored by Lisa Nielsen and Lisa Cooley - The Minds of Kids

For readers who question child-focused learning, passion-driven learning, doing work that matters and is worthy of the world and ditching tests, I’d like you to meet Caine, a nine-year-old boy who thinks neither inside or outside the box. Instead Caine uses the box to follow his passion and dreams.  
Visit the Caine's Arcade website here.

As you are about to see, Caine needed no textbooks, tests, or teachers to learn. In place of that he had tape, trinkets, time, and talent combined with a Dad who embraced, rather than dismissed, his love for arcade games.

The video speaks for itself, but a few observations just sing out. Is learning more fun when it is completely unsupervised? A safe space, lots of materials, a benign, caring and busy Dad and Caine gets to work, tape, cut, fail, try again, design, think. Ideas are popping out all over him. He's not worried about failing because nobody's around. He must have tried a few things that didn't work out, tried again, used different materials, changed his layout, with the freedom that comes from being completely unobserved, in a world of his own.

It is so much better than what happens when adults try to provide creative opportunities for kids. This level of passionate creativity is best when it is left to grow wild.

And in this world which is his own, he meets his first fan, a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. What follows is the other, equally important part of his dream: after building his arcade, he got to watch people have fun in it. What better lesson could there be but discovering the good will of strangers who not only support him in person but as of the writing of this post have donated nearly 100,000 toward his college fund!

We can list the different lessons he learned; we can even align them to standards if we wanted to make the whole thing as dull as a doornail, but here's the important thing: his education is doing just fine. He is fueled by his own passion and the joy of his accomplishment. The world is wide open for this kid. I can't wait to see what he does next.

As you watch this video, ask yourself this:

  • What subjects did Caine learn?
  • What is the role of adults?
  • How much funding is necessary for such an endeavor?
  • What is the role of technology?
  • How can teachers bring the stories of the Caines in their classroom to the world?
  • What would have happened if there were texts? teachers? tests?
  • How should parents and teachers be empowering young people to use the power of social media to help them pursue their dreams?
  • How can we fight against school policies that try to limit the ability for young people and their teachers to harness the power of social media?

      Please comment to let me know your answers and how you can enable the Caine’s you teach or parent to follow their passions.  

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