There’s a good self awareness here, but the strategies that define the classroom are troubling for any but the most compliant students. Which, of course, is typical in our classrooms.
Watch a movie about a meaningless bit of history? That’s not a break, it’s an annoyance. A break between teacher assigned tasks? Nothing to look forward to.
This is the problem with our teacher training programs, they are designed as policing programs. Notice the verbs — monitor, force, bellow — of course children, and most obviously boys, rebel.
This is why Passion-based Learning is such an essential. In the Albemarle County Public Schools we talk about changing the nature of the classroom experience so that it leverages student interests and curiosity. Back in the 1970s Alan Shapiro called this the “judo theory of education,” but it’s obvious — stop fighting childhood (or fidgit spinners) and start using them.
Start each day as we hope our educators do — with goals instead of plans. What should kids be able to say, “I can… — that I couldn’t do yesterday,” and then give them the tools and resources to get there. The minute you make a “lesson plan” — I used to tell my future teacher students at Michigan State — the minute you find yourself shutting down student inquiry and interest, because that becomes a distraction.
So, instead of putting on a video about the War of 1812, perhaps through a set of Treaty outlines onto a Google Site and ask kids which have relevance today? Guadalupe-Hidalgo? Paris? Etc. Let them dig, argue — US guns on the Great Lakes? Language rights in Arizona?
Give it a try. See if kids do, indeed, learn differently.
- Ira Socol