Saturday, 14 January 2012

Challenge: in and out of the classroom

The rich opportunities of learning in public education don't seem to be visible at present.  A child's potential has become a distant theory from the past while the goals of the present serve the needs of fitting learning targets in 180 days of a "learning year."  We limit children with our rules and systems, getting caught up in the daily minutia of skills easily managed by programs. Think outside the box has become a light, heavily used idea we don't have time to do.  Our society is not encouraged to participate in thinking.  The media and social culture suck all our time from relationships and experiences.  The result is a collective submissive group of victims unable to get outside of their boxes and continue to grow and learn and live.

School is the gift for our youth. Adults push kids' brains to grow. School gives them a time and place to learn how to think.  As adults, no longer "doing school" we become disconnected to the idea of daily reflection.  Or our reflection about our job is hyper focused, often controlled by someone else superior to us who can think better than we can.  Because we have graduated we seem to think we are done.

Good teachers know we are never done.  Scientists don't even know the capacity of our brains.  Recent findings even published in mass media so mainstream as Newsweek provide a list for adults to help grow the brain.  Begley, S. (2012, January 9 & 16). Buff Your Brain:  Want to Be Smarter in Work, Love, and Life? Scientific Advances Offer Proven Ways to Enhance Your Gray Matter. Newsweek, 25(8).  The only activity I can't even stomach is number 14: "Play violent video games."   I tend to believe engaging in acts of violence breeds acts of violence.  But, I'm just a second grade teacher, so what do I know?

My challenge in the classroom: to create a learning community of thinkers.  The tools I choose should vary, according to student learning modes (Howard Gardner's work in Multiple Intelligence) and of course the learning targets provided by my district and state to create measurable benchmarks. 

Its so easy to be self focused, to get sucked into our singular wants of life.  However, the reality of each of our minuscule perspectives traps us into thinking through a singular lens, limiting our perspective.  The challenge is to push through our lazy tunnel of vision, to welcome the possibilities of thought beyond our comfortable daily experiences and share them with others.  This is my responsibility as a leader of learners.  All teachers have this privilege.  Our western culture and I would argue the majority of world culture do not make political or systemic decisions to reflect this value.  Herein lies the problem.

I will not succumb to the average standards held by the mainstream public.  I refuse to dumb down education for my students so they can fit into an economic model of success.  I will continue to push in my daily life to grow my brain (above and beyond the suggestions in Newsweek, I hope) in order to open the possibilities of the world, present and future, for my learners.  This is my challenge.  I will own it.

1 comment:

Mary Lee said...

Strong words. Important ideas. True observations.

After a full day of PD on value-added, I'd like to write such a post...but I'm not sure I could be as dispassionate as you are!