Posted in Education, Teaching

Thoughts on Summer Reading Part 6

Everything most teachers do in the classroom is preventing our students from growing and developing into entrepreneurs.  Students in America are not growing up inventing things and starting transformational companies and businesses.  And this needs to change or else our numbers as a country will continue to decline across the board regarding education and the economy.

As I finished my required summer reading book, I thought I would try out one of the methods of making ideas memorable: Be Unexpected.  I also began reading another text entitled World Class Learners by Yong Zhao.  Despite only being on page 12, still part of the introduction, I’m already enamored by the author’s ideas and assertions.  He’s suggesting that, globally, schools are not promoting creativity and the entrepreneurial mindset.  Some schools and districts that adopt an entrepreneurial curriculum, actually kill creativity within our students.  Because so many schools focus on getting through a curriculum, students have very little time to play and take risks.  As teachers, we need to fix this.

We need to put the idea of getting through the curriculum on the back burner and present one core standard at a time.  We need to do so in an engaging way that promotes creative problem solving.  We need to allow students the opportunity to take risks, create solutions, fail, and try again.  If the objective is, Students will understand how the various Native American tribes influenced the colonists, then we need to bring our students outside to explore the land once inhabited by the Native tribes.  We need them to explore and observe the natural world.  We want our students to think like English colonists coming to America.  What did they know how to do and not know how to do?  What flora and fauna would have been new to the colonists?  We want our students to try and harvest crops, make dwellings, find food, and survive without the knowledge the Native Americans provided the colonists.  We want them to figure out on their own through hands-on play how the colonists would have been influenced by the Native people.  Making the learning tangible and real through play and exploration fosters creative problem solving and makes the engineering process relevant for our students.  Now, take this experience and hold it up against how most teachers would cover this standard.  Read this text and discuss with a partner, make a T Chart of how the Native Americans influenced the colonists, and then write a report or paragraph about how one tribe greatly changed life for the colonists.  Will students be inspired to take risks and try new things in this scenario?  Will this activity engage students and make the learning tangible and real?  No, of course not.  As teachers, we need to change the way we teach or we will continue to fail our students.

Yes, I know, it’s not easy to change and bring play into the classroom with the great demands placed upon you by your district or principle.  However, if we keep venturing down this same broken road, we’ll be even more lost in ten years than we are now.  What’s that famous quote? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result.”  Yeah, that’s it.  We need to bring about change in schools around the world so that our students are inspired, engaged, and learning how to take risks, solve problems, collaborate, and recognize opportunities.  I’m making a stand against stagnent education.  I’m going to change the way I teach and educate students next year.  I’m going to create projects and activities that foster play and exploration.  I can’t be in this alone though, we all need to pledge to change the way we teach and work with students because what we’re doing now is failing them.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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