The Real World

I smile when I think about the good work that teachers do to connect their students (and classroom learning) to the outside world.  Learning that only lives in a classroom can get a little stale.

I wonder though about the way that we name this kind of learning.  Specifically the term “real world problem solving”.  At the risk of fixating on semantics , I do think we need to scrap the term.

When we, educators (and administrators, and board staff), start telling kids what a “real world problem” is and isn’t we risk doing 2 things:

1) We don’t build their learning by using their prior knowledge of the world.

2) We devalue their experience of the world. Ours is the real version.

When we connect students’ learning to their world, it becomes even more real.

For that reason, maybe we need to start thinking about how we might “see the world differently” instead of presenting our students with problems that are real.

Here are a couple of examples for your consideration.

How might we see and measure the angles that surround us at school?


How might we conserve more energy at our school?


2 thoughts on “The Real World

  1. Dear Mr. Stepan, we were amused to hear that you had posted a Vote for a New Name for your Grade 6 Robot. The students were very excited to take part in the voting process and in spreading the word. (being excellent campaign organizers and supporters) After Friday, we are now dismayed to hear that the polling / voting system may had been rigged or tainted to always favour on particular name. Rumour is, as well, that this one name “Juanita” is also your pick for the robot name. Many of us parents monitored the website / polling numbers and were all in agreement that it would be impossible for that many votes to overtake all others in such a small amount of time. Do you have access to the website to alter these numbers?! This would be very sad for a teacher to turn the voting system to favor one name only as the winner and not to say very “undemocratic” As well, the rules were never clearly laid out; such as: was the Voting not supposed to end on Friday evening? Were the numbers being counted by a counter?
    On Monday, will the kids be given all the results explaining how the votes were tally – how many votes were placed, up until what time exactly and more importantly, will they be shown all the IP Addresses the votes came from in order to prove there wasn’t any one duplicated?
    Again, all of the parents that spoke about this are in agreement that the students should learn about voting / polling systems etc (not just about re-naming robot) and how incredibly legitimate they must be in order to work.
    We all enjoyed watching our kids take it on and get excited about watching the numbers change but thought it unjustifiable how the Juanita name kept going with so many votes. This is not about the names chosen (winning or losing) but its about the process which doesn’t add up!
    Hopefully this can all be explained; maybe some errors were made in setting up the poll or yes, it was indeed hacked but one thing is sure, the Grade 6 class deserve some answers.
    Thank you for your time and effort.


  2. HAHAHA! Rest assured, my weekend was spent working on Report Cards, not on rigging a voting system 🙂

    Like you I was shocked to see the results and have no idea what happened. Moreover, since Juanita was my choice (yes, I actively campaigned for the name), I think that a re-vote is in order.

    The polling software on WordPress is new to me. What I thought might give parents and families the chance to vote, has actually ended up being a bit of a mess. Having said that, it has given me a teachable moment to use with both the grade 5 and 6 classes. This week we’ll talk about what happened, how we might make it right, and when a re-vote (this time on paper 😉) might occur.

    Thank you for expressing your concern. Please email me if my response was not to your liking.


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