If kids say no, what do they say yes to?

I have been reading a lot about how students today want to be in control of their own learning deciding where and when they learn.  I asked my students today about whether or not they should have to come to school.  The answer was decidedly – no.

The current trends in education say that students are wanting to direct their own learning by deciding what, when, and when they learn.  I believe that a growing society is also to have population of learned citizens who produce the wants and needs of life other than just saying what they want to do.  Why do students not want to come to school?

Learning in a classroom is, at best, contrived.  The current methodology is to teach a mass of different skills, in different classrooms, with different teachers without any context or application.  Learning to learn is one thing, but learning with no meaning is another.  This is why students do not want to come to school, though they would argue it is just boring and are not learning anything.  I would also think they do not want to come to school because they lives are lived with hypermedia, and they receive information at whim and smile quick as light.  There is no waiting for the website, music, or video – maybe just a little depending on the connection speed.  In school students sit at a desk with a book and have to read, discuss, and answer.  Video games immerse the student in other world experiences to build and destroy stimulating all of the senses, yet they learn.  One girl said today that games can teach and they do.  The deck is stacked against education in this “learn in school” paradigm.

How do I respond to this negative attitude towards formal learning?  I have to seek ways that authentically engage students.  I like questions that starts with “What if?”  Getting the students to wonder how something would be different and how they would make it different will engage them because there is a sense of wonderment.

Any thoughts on how to further engage students who have such a dislike for school?

photo credit: Madison Guy via photopin cc

Teacher Talking Teaching


As a result of many conversations with my colleague, Val Stowell-Hart, we decided to launch a forum for teachers to discuss relevant topics that are affecting us as a building and profession. Throughout the two years I have been at BBHMS, I have had many conversations about what is going on and how to change. Doing what is best for kids means educator discussions have to happen and when they happen some action has to come of it. It is our hope that this forum will allow the staff, whoever participates, to come to some real conclusions about issues we are facing and ways overcome these barriers.

Beyond this is a need to just get together to talk. This year, at least here, many teachers are running around frantically pulling together ideas for lessons, technology, and assessments while trying innovative ventures to enhance the learning experience for students. Ok, I have something to do with the innovative technology side of things as this is my role. Teachers here adopted new textbooks (Science and Social Studies) which included an online component and with this online component came a set of netbooks for every teacher who wanted them. So now, not only is there a new textbook series but another component online that still needs to be explored and integrated, and this integration will be a year long just to try and figure out how and where to use it. So, there is a good deal of stress right now.

TTT will give us a chance to talk through issues and find solutions.

If you have something like this at your school, send me an email so we can talk about how it is being implemented where you are. At your school, what is your forum for talking about issues and such?