A few weeks ago I was having lunch with some of my uber-talented sixth grade students. We were talking about school life (amidst the music and occasional ping pong game and mini-dance party) and they also began blogging their thoughts about what their ideal school would look like. Common themes: more social time, less structure, more freedoms, more interest-specific explorations.
One thing that struck me as interesting was a response when I asked, “How do you think your teacher decides what to teach you?”
Very thoughtfully, the student replied, “I never really thought about that! I don’t think she decides. I think it comes from the higher-ups. It’s not like teachers have the freedom to say, Okay, we’re going to learn about candy today!”
So. Do our students indeed view the teacher as the imparter-of-knowledge? Or do they view the teacher as a mechanism through which someone else decides what’s important for children to learn?
I followed up. “Do you think teachers should ask you what you want to learn about?”
“I think some people wouldn’t take it seriously and would just be joking about it.”
“But if that was the norm. If, every day, you came into class knowing you could explore the topics that most interested you. How would that go?”
With that thought in mind, she began describing how she’d center her daily learning experiences around theatrics and drama…there would be role-playing, acting, performing, and creation. Because, in her words, she was going to be “the world’s greatest actress.”
What can we do to promote this passion-driven learning in our schools? How can we, as administrators, help children find that which they love and involve them in their learning experiences that promote, celebrate, and honor those passions?
Not many of us can resist reaching into a bowl of sugary sweet candy goodness. Let’s work to make our children’s learning experiences just as irresistible.