Recently, a good friend passed along a link, thinking that it might pique my interest. It certainly did.
It’s worth watching, especially if you are invested in education, which I really think everyone should be. Seth Godin‘s (@ThisIsSethsBlog) thoughts about education are, by all means, the ideal. Individualized education for all, interest-based learning, and an overall “laissez faire” attitude towards education would certainly create a more harmonious atmosphere in my room, and lower my blood pressure, mind you. At many points during the school year, I find myself rushing to keep up with the district curriculum maps, cross-referencing NWEA-MAP (Northwest Education Association’s Measure of Academic Progress) to make sure that I am not only meeting my district’s expectations but also effectively differentiating instruction so that the needs of my lower achievers as well as my higher achiever are met. There are days when I wonder why I am teaching what I’m teaching, but I plug along.
Here’s what I think: I inspire, I encourage dissonant thought, and I do my best to channel the interests of my students (when reading, writing, etc.). However, at the end of the day, there are certain things that all fourth graders need to know, and there are reasons behind standards in the classroom. Likewise, Seth, I agree that we, as teachers, need to do “interesting” things and keep kids engaged so they become lifelong learners. I would be surprised to find many teachers who do not feel that way about education. However, neither every part of every job nor every minute of your life is going to be interesting. It is essential to teach certain things, including responsibility and discipline, not for the sake of obedience, but rather for the sake of functionality in a world that could “fire” you at any moment. Therefore, as is the case with all other ideas in education, it is essential to find a happy medium: Interest-based learning that allows for students to find different ways to the same outcome. I mean, come on, there is a reason we teach (most of) the things we teach. Even if they won’t use it when they’re 25 (unless they’re a teacher), it helps to stretch the mind, and in my opinion, enrich the soul. Like I said, we really are thinking specialists. If we are teaching kids to think through the curriculum and view many scenarios as “problems to be solved,” we can teach anything and have it be worthwhile.
More to come on this topic. Thank you, Seth, for caring enough about this topic to talk about it. The teachers appreciate it.