Start AIMMING for Success
It’s time to start AIMMing for success. AIMM is a simple acronym for Academics Integrated with Making and Mentoring, a straightforward formula for achievement.
It requires the blending of academics, a maker curriculum, and mentoring to help build the knowledge and skills to succeed in an uncertain future. Each of these three components reach, of course, across wide swaths of territory. But they present a means of preparing our kids for a future hinted at but not yet fully defined.
Taken as they are today, the core requirements of most traditional educational approaches make for a very dry and untethered set of skills. That being said, the ability to understand the relationships between numbers, to be able to analyze a piece of text, to see how chemicals interact under certain circumstances and to learn from our past all contribute to the analytical skills we all need to function in an adult world.
Putting together a simple budget, responding to an email request or complaint, preparing a meal or fantastic dessert are perhaps the simplest of tasks that many kids leave high school unable to complete. The simplest.
But by integrating this knowledge building and skills development into more practical learning experiences, we will see longer-term retention as well as ability to apply learning than in the test-driven school environments many of our kids are living in today.
Maker Curriculum and Project-Based Learning
Implementing Project-Based Learning, where students engage in real-life life problem-solving activities over an extended period of time is a great step toward applying those seemingly disparate sets of skills to something of lasting value. Doing this within a maker framework, where students create a tangible prototype, receive feedback and complete a real deliverable takes our kids one step closer to being able to function in the real world.
Many of us remember a teacher, coach, or advisor who took a special interest in us either through a single incident or over an extended period of time. But not everyone does, and until we integrate this type of one-on-one support into our educational models as a regular practice, few people will receive the type of long-term, ongoing support and expertise that can help kids navigate their early years and transition into adulthood.
There are some great mentoring programs out there for kids considered to be at risk, those who may be on their way to dropping out of school and not attending college. While these programs provide a valuable service, for the most part, they serve a school as usual model.
The type of mentoring mentioned here is part of a disruptive model to change school as usual for all kids, mentors that can be integrated into the curriculum as we bring more outside expertise into, or take more kids outside the school room through ongoing PBL and maker activities.
How High Can We AIMM?
K-12 is the place to begin integrating academics with more hands-on, real-life, extended learning experiences. Schools like AltSchool, programs such as Breaker,Beam Center, Tools at Schools and DIY.org are amongst those who seek to bring more meaningful learning experiences to kids inside of school and out. Higher Ed is also searching for ways to connect more with what their students need outside of the college experience. I’d say, AIMM high.