The Crossroads of Creation and Consumption

What’s the last thing that you “consumed”?  Maybe it’s a new series on Netflix, or a great book, or maybe you listened to a playlist of songs you love.  All of those could be examples of consumption.  Our students are experts at consumption!  Playing a game while listening to music, and with something on the TV.  I know that often in our classrooms we are seeking to help our students to create something for the world.  In your ELA class you might expect them to create a presentation to go with their persuasive research paper.  In science it could be creating an experiment that shows some of the scientific properties that you have been studying.  In math you might ask them to create a model of some of the geometric shapes you have been learning about.  This list could go on.

Oftentimes we think of consumption as fairly low level thinking, while creating is higher level thinking.  But I want to challenge that a bit today with certain types of consumption.  Recently my family decided that we wanted to have a vegetable garden in our back yard, but didn’t know exactly what that might entail.  I consumed information from websites and blog posts to think about where we should put it, and how we would create it.  After looking at a variety of options, we decided that we were going to do a raised bed in the back yard.

Next we had to come up with a design.  Again, I consumed resources.  I jumped on Pinterest and looked at pictures of examples of raised bed gardens.  Did we want to use stone or lumber?  Once we decided on wood, then it was a question of what kind.  My searches on Pinterest took me to various websites that talked about the advantage of cedar compared to redwood compared to treated lumber.  The options (and the opinions) seemed endless.  Eventually we decided to go with treated lumber.  Check out the pictures below documenting some of our process!

I guess what I’m getting at is that all of us have to consume from time to time, and so do our students.  Part of 21st Century Learning requires consumption, but I think we would all agree that there is a difference in consumption of a series on Netflix or a book that we are reading for enjoyment as compared to the type of consumption that we do when we want to learn about a new teaching strategy or a project that we want to do at home.  That’s where we come in – through guiding our students in how to consume information, we can help make sure that consumption is for the purpose of learning and creation.

What strategies have been successful to guide your students to meaningful consumption?  What things have you consumed that have led to additional learning?  As lifelong learners, it’s important to verbalize what we are still learning about!  That’s part of what I am documenting in these weekly posts, my own learning!  Share with us in the comments below things that you have taken in that have led you to create something – for your students, your classroom, your family, or just for you.  Or share with us some of the things you students have created!

If you find the idea of creation and consumption interesting and would like to dig a little bit deeper, check out the Ted Talk by Larry Lessig titled Laws that choke creativity.  It might lead you to think about consumption a little bit differently!

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