Saturday, May 23, 2009
THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION
A Facebook friend posted this to his blog. All I can say is WOW. This guy says what a lot of teachers have felt for years. Please let us stop teaching to the test. Please stop changing the curriculum every 15 minutes (and that's being liberal...). Those of us who do our research already know about the differences in learning styles, and do our best to teach to all of them across the board--visual, auditory, kinesthetic. OF COURSE the basics are important. They always have been, and they always will be. But there's more than one way to get there. There are MANY unconventional ways to get there. I had a student one year, I'll call her Georgie (because that was her name, and it was like, 100 years ago, so I doubt she'll be offended) who absolutely, positively, COULD NOT sit still. Ever. For any reason. She was like a tiny burst of energy in her cute little dress sitting there in my 2nd grade classroom. The problem was, there were also 31 other cute little people also sitting there in my classroom (an injustice unto itself) who were becoming distracted by her inability to control her wiggly self. One day, Georgie and I devised a plan to help her get her work--ANY work, done. From that day on, after the teaching portion of the lesson, I stapled her assignments to the wall. The deal was, as long as she did not bother other people by making eye contact with them or by making noise, she was free to walk laps around the classroom. Each time she passed her paper, she stopped to do a problem (sometimes 2). Guess what? It turns out that Georgie, who had until this time been getting F's on all of her assignments, was an A student! For the rest of the 2nd grade year, she continued to work in this fashion, and at the end of the year, was one of my top achievers. Sadly, the next year she didn't return to our school, so I don't know how she fared after that. I can only hope that other teachers along the way helped her to be herself inside of some basic parameters, and that she learned to speak up for herself and to be her own advocate. A tall order for a 7 year old, but if anyone could've done it, Georgie could have. I was down about losing her until I talked to a teacher friend of mine. I told my friend that I didn't want all of my efforts and Georgie's to have been in vain should she just be plopped into a traditionally-structured 3rd grade classroom. I will never forget my friend's reply. She said, "If you knew there would be a famine in 9 months, would you quit feeding your children today in preparation for it?" When I think of her, and of her words, I know that no effort I make as a teacher, mom, wife, or friend will ever be wasted, and that I will always strive to feed and nurture the creative minds and expressions and "outside the box" ways of every student, to allow them to reach their full potential. Watch this video, you'll love it.