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Why Learning Is So Much Bigger Than School

child and man playing chess outdoors
Frankie Torres
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Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/agWs9r

Human beings have been learning long before schoolhouse walls were ever built, bubble tests invented and recess bells rung. So why is there still so much confusion and debate about the purpose of school, the goals of education and the best ways to empower students to succeed in life? 

Host Frank Stasio talks to Jeffrey Greene, professor of educational psychology and learning sciences at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, about how humans remember and apply information and which common myths about learning are hampering students, parents and teachers. 

 
The school system currently in place evolved over centuries of back-and-forth debate about the purpose of education, the best way to prepare children for their futures and the right way to test and evaluate kids, schools and states. Frank Stasio speaks with Patricia Graham, the Charles Warren professor of the history of American education, emerita, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Steve Stemler, professor of psychology at Wesleyan University, about the history, purpose and politics of schools in America.  

 
In the face of a seemingly entrenched public school system, some teachers, parents and administrators are creating alternatives. Approaches range from self-directed learning to Montessori-style schools, but most focus on student learning instead of school structure. Frank Stasio also speaks with Ulcca Joshi Hansen, associate director of national outreach and community building with Education Reimagined, a non-profit initiative of Convergence that works to accelerate the growth and impact of the learner-centered education movement in the United States, about the range of nontraditional school models, the educational mindset they reflect and how they prepare children for work and life.   

Joshi Hansen mentions schools in North Carolina that are taking a learner-centered approach, including the Evergreen Community Charter School in Asheville, Two Rivers Community Schools in Boone, The Expedition School in Hillsborough, and Montessori schools in general such as Washington Montessori School in Washington, NC.

This program originally aired on Dec. 7, 2017. 

Jennifer Brookland is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow. She covers stories about the military and veterans as well as issues affecting the people and places of North Carolina.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.