Hacking Education: Let the Students Lead

When you hear the word hacking, what comes to mind?  I’ll venture to guess that it likely brings forth a myriad of negative connotations…

(cc Charis Tsevis)

Hackers steal bank account information! 

Hackers put viruses on computers! 

Hackers steal people’s identity! 

Hackers take over social media accounts! 

Yes, some hackers do give the word hacking a bad name, but would it surprise you to know that hacking can also be positive and that hacking  can be seen as something good?

Bud Hunt  acknowledges on his blog that:

“The original definition of a hack was a fiddle that improved a process or a program.  A hacker was someone who made such changes.  Hackers were revered in technology communities, because they took what was there and made it better. ” 

Let me just repeat that last part of what Hunt stated just in case you missed it:

…[Hackers] took what was there and made it BETTER. 

So, how exactly does the original definition of hacking relate to education?  Well, let me ask you a question.  Should we as educators and/or parents always be striving to continually make education BETTER for our children?  The answer should always be a resounding, “Yes!”

Logan LaPlante  coined the term “Hackschooling” and expressed in his viral TEDx video that:

“Hackers are innovators.  Hackers are people who challenge and change the systems to make them work differently, to make them work better.  It’s just how they think.  It’s a mindset.”

Kids Learning to control a toy robotic arm at Maker Faire 2016
(cc Don DeBold)

Many of our schools today are letting their curriculums be driven by state assessments, and often times it’s due to the fact that they feel they don’t have a choice.  Let’s think outside the box.  What if we let the way we approach the curriculum be driven by the students?  What if we focus on their interests?  What if we let them be a key component in their educational journey?  What if we let them be a part of hacking their education?

Right now, our testing is focused on the expectation that children should all be at a certain level academically by a certain point in their education.  If students don’t reach this certain expectation, then fingers are pointed at the school and at the teachers.  The pressure is on to make sure a certain percentage of the students are reaching proficiency, because there are detrimental repercussions if they don’t-for both the school and the teachers.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I believe that learning the core subjects is a vitally important part of a child’s education, but so is being creative…being individuals…being happy.

The powers that be don’t seem to see that sometimes they are trying to fit square pegs in round holes.  Every child has different learning styles…they learn differently and they learn at different rates.  This is to be expected as we are all different individuals, so why would we expect our learning styles to be exactly the same?   We don’t come out of the same cookie cutter mold.

(cc BK)

You see, we need to stop measuring children’s academic success by how they rate compared to everyone else.   Instead, we need to measure a children’s academic success by looking at their own personal growth.   Do they know more today than what they knew yesterday, last week, or at the beginning of the school year?

If we change our focus, it allows more time for lessons to be student-led.  We know that when students find interest in a topic, they will likely retain more of the information within that topic of study and be more motivated to learn.  We need to find ways to connect our students to the lessons being taught.

And, I can not stress enough how we MUST look for ways to stop the monotony of the school days.

This is where the concept of hacking can come in.  Let’s do our best to make the education of our children BETTER.

Education should be constantly evolving.  We never want to settle for what education is, whether it was yesterday, today, or five years from now.  Instead, let’s always find ways to make education more exceptional than it was the day before.

Always improving.  Always growing.  Always learning.










I'm a mother of 3 wonderful boys, a wife, a college student working towards my elementary education degree, an aspiring children's book author, an avid volunteer, and a substitute teacher. I love being outdoors, reading, spreading kindness, spending time with family, learning, and teaching.

2 thoughts on “Hacking Education: Let the Students Lead

  1. What a fun blog you have! I agree that a lot of times it seems that they are trying to stick square pegs into round holes when it comes to education, there is this cookie cutter way that most think needs to be followed. When in all reality no kid is the same and they all need different ways of being educated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks and you’re right on! It’s going to be tough to ensure we are teaching our students as the individuals they are, but it will be worth it!


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