Our Unschooling Adventure - which officially started in Lowell in the Fall of 2005 - now continues in Berlin.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Olin College

Manisha is a member of IEEE and gets their monthly magazine Spectrum. This month's issue has this must-read article about Olin College called "The Olin Experiment".This is a new college funded by the Olin Foundation with a philosophy that may be new to the educational establishment, although not to homeschoolers:
[President]...Miller explains the philosophy behind what he calls the "do and then learn" approach. "Students start out with an audacious project, which would in many institutions be heretical, except we do that deliberately," the amiable 56-year-old executive says. "Because, after all, when you get hired in a corporation, that's the first thing that happens to you: they give you a challenge for which you've not had the prerequisites. It's all about learning how to learn. So we do that here from day one."
Here's another interesting excerpt:

The professors showed the groups a commercial unit and referred them to relevant patents and other technical documentation in a step-by-step guided design. The faculty's plan was to watch carefully as the groups progressed and discover where and why they failed. "The problem is, they didn't fail," Miller says. "They got it to work. This wasn't the highest-quality fabrication in the world; it was a very crude-looking circuit board with a lot of transistors. But it worked. And we said, 'Aha! There's something to this. You don't need to have prerequisites.' "

Even more revealing, he adds, was the effect the exercise had on the students. "They now wanted to know what a transistor is—badly. They now had a sincere, deep, personal motivation to learn electromagnetic theory and circuit design. These kids will never forget the experience they had in that project."


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