I was lucky in that my personality fit relatively well into how traditional school is organized. However, I know a lot of people who are brilliant, but either don't apply themselves to what they're learning because they feel it's not relevant, or just don't learn in the way that public education is set up. The talk by Ken Robinson brings up a good point that instead of letting students work on what is really important to them, all the students in the class are brought to be "average".
This gives me a few things to think about when I teach my own science class. I generally incorporate discussions, activities, and observational labs in my class. 30% of the course is based on their activism project, where the students must design and implement a community/environmental service project of their choosing. But still, another 30% is based on exams, which I know is a more traditional way of testing knowledge. I try to only test students on the most relevant course material - they don't have to memorize the nitrogen cycle, but they should know what causes climate change.
This sort of goes back to the overarching theme of my life - learning how to actually do things. Tomorrow I'm going to attempt to plant my garden. It's supposed to rain all weekend, but I have the design of how I'm going to set it up, and I am very determined to do it. I have lots of compost/cardboard/grass clippings/food scraps to try my no-till setup. Conventionally, people till the soil before planting the seeds. Since I'm taking a permaculture class, one idea is to lay grass clippings/vegetable scraps, cardboard, then compost, then seedling soil on the ground before planting your seeds on top of this. Not only is this my first garden that I'll plant by myself, but it's also the first time anyone in my family is trying this no-till idea. However, since permaculture is based off the way things grow in nature, I feel fairly confident that by replicating nature, I should be somewhat (?) successful.
I'll let you know how things go on Monday.