About Learning for Real
Who will lead us through the twenty-first century? We must empower our young people to step up and take responsibility for their world. This will happen if and only if we act now in teaching them how to be the proprietors of their own process of learning. Presently, with our prescriptive and confining curriculums, we offer little to interest them or connect them to the world as they know it. They have no idea why they should learn what we are teaching. We must show them. By providing a meaningful, authentic purpose to learn academic content, students begin to see that they play an active role in their education. They own it. When they own it, they develop an intrinsic motivation to know, to do and to be more.
As the ownership of learning shifts from teacher to student, it produces a ripple effect within the classroom and throughout the school community. Everyone is affected. Establishing an authentic learning environment is essential in fostering and developing the academic, social and emotional skills necessary to be thriving members of society.
Learning for Real was born as an authentic response to our struggling educational system. What we are doing is not working. We must change course. This thinking is not new, but many who forge ahead in attempt to remedy the mounting problems we face in education, do so in haste and without an adequate understanding of best practices in education. There are no quick fixes. We must consider the big picture as we set goals and reflect on a sensible, realistic plan of action to engage and motivate our students in becoming thoughtful, productive citizens in a world whose challenges are immense and daunting.
About the Founder
As a teacher with 33 years of experience, Mary Ruth has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the learning experiences and opportunities of students and their families.
Twenty years ago she had an experience that changed her life and altered her professional path in a profound way. She attended training sessions at The Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City, spent nine intense days living the process of creating an original opera and learned how to replicate the experience with her students. She then began creating opera with her students and using the process as a vehicle through which to teach curriculum and life skills. The authentic purpose for learning coupled with the arts provided the perfect stage on which to construct a love for life-long learning.
The profundity of the work, the transformation of the kids and a desire to “bring to light” new ideas in education, inspired Mary Ruth to share this way of thinking and learning. In 2006, she was granted a Fulbright Scholarship, sponsored by the Teatro Real in Madrid and a sabbatical from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, to travel to Spain to develop and implement a similar program there. She resided there for two years, training teachers and working side by side with teachers and students in their classrooms. The reception of the opera project was overwhelming. Mary Ruth returns to Madrid every summer to train a new team of educators and artists in the process. To date, more than 500 teachers and 14,000 students have participated in the program. Mary Ruth currently teaches third grade at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village, Maryland where she is implementing a classroom curriculum based on the principles of authentic learning.
Board of Directors
Mary Ruth McGinn- President, Chief Executive Officer
Sharon Wentzel- Vice President
Richard Schiffauer- Treasurer
Ellen Bloom- Secretary