“I want to be happy… I want to continue to be happy like I am now,” says teen Logan LaPlante when discussing the ambitions of his life. In his Tedtalk “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” LaPlante speaks to how schools focus so much on the academic that they forget to teach students skills that will actually give them the life their teachers want for them. Teachers don’t want their students to finish their diploma and go to college so they can be successful; they want them to be successful because they think doing so will help to make their students happier. However, LaPlante talks about his own education experience and how his parents pulled him out of regular school to “Hackschool” him - which sounds a lot like my friends who were “unschooled” when I was growing up. He mentions how he wants to continue to learn as a means to learning how to build a happier life. The keys to happiness, he says, are exercise, diet/nutrition, time in nature, contribution/service, relationships, recreation, relaxation/stress management, and spiritual/religious. I liked how he pointed out that we need to teach students how to be happy as a part of school. Ways I can see myself doing that is by talking about the science of exercise, diet/nutrition, time in nature (probably framed in the context of conservation), and relaxation/stress management within appropriate units in biology. I could also see how I might find links to the other “keys” but they would not be as directly related to science. For example, a problem I encountered last trimester was students’ discomfort with the idea of evolution because they thought I was attacking their religion. I could see talking a bit more about how the religious or spiritual part of people’s life is very important BUT that science does not try to answer religious/spiritual questions (not at least, does good and reliable science!).
Caine’s Arcade by Mullick chronicled the endearing story of Caine, a boy who made his own arcade. Caine’s father tells the story of how his son always loved playing games. Caine would spend time at his father’s shop, where his father suggested he build games out of cardboard boxes. Caine’s creativity and ability to solve problems is apparent from seeing what he has come up with. He has solved problems such as how to dispense tickets simply but efficiently. I could not help noticing how Caine’s interest gave him motivation for putting in a lot of time and effort and deep thinking into his project. Maybe this is what our schools are often times missing - giving students the ability to connect their learning on a deep level with things that already interest them. In the “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” talk, LePlante observed how-if you are motivated- you can learn almost anything very quickly. Building on students’ previous knowledge and preexisting interest could be one way to push them to motivation.