Allowing Experiences and Why It’s So Valuable

Christine Laurenzi is devoted to inspiring the next generation through personalized learning experiences. For nearly a decade, she has worked to challenge education’s status quo.​ As an award winning teacher and educational entrepreneur, she has energized learning by designing opportunities that empower​ students to pursue their individual interests at a high level, while connecting to and helping the community. Learn more about Christine and her school at Individualizededu.com.

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Christine Laurenzi allowing experiences in learningThis post was originally published on Christine’s school website, individualizededu.com, and re-published on Learning Personalized with permission.

Last night was the first night my husband and I spent in our new home. We closed on the house two weeks ago but have spent almost every minute since, either renovating (the 90s were a great era for many things – classy interior design was not one of them) or putting on the little touches to prepare it before we actually moved in.

As we sat exhausted, we began thinking about all of the things that we accomplished and I began thinking about how much pride there is in doing things for yourself.

Yes, those baseboards and those corner rounds, we installed them. Those cabinets, we hung them. That wallpaper, gone and painted because we put in the work. Those electrical issues, we addressed them. That floor, we fixed it.

The list goes on, but the major takeaway for me was that if you would have asked me last month if I had any idea how to do any of that or if I was capable of doing many of the renovations that we completed, I would have said, “Not even with a youtube tutorial.”

But now after trying, making mistakes along the way, and with some expert (my dad, stepmom, and husband’s) guidance, I can and I could even teach others if I had to.

Which got me thinking about “school” as a whole. The fact that those three things are frowned upon pose a huge problem to the children that are a part of it and ultimately the adults that we are raising.

If we don’t give our students opportunities to DO FOR THEMSELVES, then they will never know what they’re truly capable of. I’m not saying that our 2nd grade students need to be handling an electric nail gun, but the fact is that in most classrooms, the work is already done for them. The lessons and games are prepared and planned without their input, the work is cut out for them because it’s simply quicker that way, and the computer programs that they’re forced to spend time on are mandated because someone paid for them. But imagine if kids were empowered to be a part of the process? What a different mentality we would instill in our little ones and in education altogether.

Having a trained, trustworthy professional leading the charge is of importance but in reality, it’s when we make mistakes that we learn the valuable lessons. Yes, I installed an electrical outlet upside down but now I will never forget the wire color combination because I don’t want to waste the time and make that mistake again. Kids operate in the same manner. They will fall down, they will skin their knees, they’ll kick a ball over the fence, and they may have to redo a project. But… IT’S OK.

Our job, as adults, teachers, and professionals, is to safely ALLOW them to have the EXPERIENCES and to make the MISTAKES for many reasons. They’ll learn from it. It’s an opportunity to teach them how to handle failure. We can show them how to have a positive attitude no matter the circumstance. And when we guide them, they’ll grow and learn how to move forward.

Sure, one lesson completed for them here and there isn’t that big of a deal. But if for 13 years (or more depending on your college experience) we simply choose to shelter our kids from thinking for themselves, making mistakes, and experiencing success, then we are sheltering them from the realities of the world and from achieving their potential.

This is big. If we allow kids to experience, to do, we are encouraging them to learn. To become more confident in their abilities. To take pride in themselves and fostering the types of adults that will house those same qualities.

Indi-ED students will have the opportunity to ‘do’ for themselves OFTEN and will even have the opportunity to help us design our space next year so that they will already begin establishing the pride and confidence necessary to do big things. I can also guarantee that they will make mistakes and that’s OK.

It takes patience and practice to intentionally allow them to do for themselves. But it’s worth it.

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