Recently I attended a training about teaching kids how to talk to each other and collaborate while learning. While I enjoyed the training, there was one thing that the presenter said that bugged me. She said that at the end of the day, students should be very tired from “working” all day. She made the point that students should be be the tired ones, not their teachers. Personally I don’t think teachers or students should be tired at the end of the day. When you do something that you love to do everyday you don’t end the day exhausted. You end the day with excitement and energy because of your accomplishments and you feel good about them.
I have a problem with the way we talk about seven- and eight-year-olds and the “work” they do in school. I often tell my students they need to focus on their “work,” and I immediately regret using that word.
I’m the soon to be proud father of a sweet little boy who is in Thailand right now. He’s 15 months old, but I know it won’t be long before he’s getting ready for school. When that day comes, I hope that the school he goes to is not about making students “work”. I hope that the school he attends wants to help him discover his passion. I hope that he comes home, not exhausted and tired, but full of energy and excitement.
Learning to me is a joy, not a job. I’ve always been a curious kid, and in many ways, I still am. I took apart computers growing up to find out what was inside. It wasn’t “work” for me; it was just fun. Today I have that same curiosity about many things. I love learning about the latest technology and looking into ways to integrate it into my classroom. It combines two of my favorite passions, technology and education. The parts of my job that are “work” are the parts that drain me of my energy and excitement.
I think one of the ways that we can really change the world is to make life less about working and more about our passions. Steve Jobs said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Everyone should have the opportunity to love what they do.
Kids don’t want to go to work; they want to go on adventures. They want to make new discoveries. If we lead them on adventures and allow them to discover new ideas, then we will have a new generation of learners–learners that are inspired by possibilities instead of drained by work. Its going to take some reshaping of how we educate our kids. We are going to have to rethink education as it has been done for the last one hundred years.
My passion for teaching has been reinvigorated recently by discovering new ways to allow students to explore new concepts rather than being told about them. Through apps like Classkick and Showbie I have been able to provide quick feedback to my students, which allows me to give them more time to explore. When I know they have mastered a concept, they can have some freedom to explore new concepts on their own. For example, several of my students this year have begun exploring multiplication months before I’ve introduced the topic to the class. This kind of flexibility and freedom is in large part due to the use of technology in my class. I don’t want my students to be caught up in “working” all day. I want them to be caught up in exploring and discovering.
When my kid comes home at the end of the day, I hope he’s energized by what he did at school. I hope he has a hard time controlling his excitement about what he learned that day. I don’t want to him to be tired by work….I want him to be inspired by creativity. I want him to come home and continue to explore and discover.