Here’s an idea I like:
Students should not read textbooks; they should write them.
Weinberger was initially ambivalent, but since the advent of wikis he has warmed to the notion. He describes how the collective, collaborative – and no doubt contentious – act of crafting a coherent, accurate wiki on the subject of study is itself educational:
Let them argue about how to organize it. Keep the discussion pages up. Keep the differences visible. Let them fill it with links. Let them connect with other students in other schools creating related wikis.
A class’s wiki is not going to be as complete, well-grounded or well-written as a good textbook. But students will learn more by writing one than by cribbing and cramming from a professional textbook.
In my (by now, predictable) view, the same principle applies to museum exhibitions and websites. If you’re only ever engaged in a passive way, as a consumer, it’s hard to remain interested. But if you have the chance to think through the issues of what to put on display, how to arrange and describe the items, and what they mean, it’s a faaaar more interesting experience. A journey, rather than a sushi train of neatly prepackaged ideas. At 5 to midnight, my metaphors are failing me, but I hope you know what I mean.
I’d like to see more programs that work on that principle. I’d love to hear about yours.
(Thanks to Mal for the pointer.)