This past week I had a teacher altering experience. My kids did a project that changed the way I look at how kids learn and my role in the learning process…and no, this post is not about it 🙂 While I was reflecting on what happened and more importantly why, I noticed a post from Chris Baker. It sat in one of my browser tabs for days. I just felt somewhere in his post was an answer for what happened in my unit.
“Learning is a wild beast. It defies structure, and it prowls around without the ability to be predicted. It’s quicksilver, eely and slippery, unable to be tethered or corralled.”
My kids were working on a short project and at some point I just gave up on trying to get them to follow the path that I had left bread crumbs on for them to follow. I just simply gave up and followed them. I did not care what everyone turned in or how long it took. Everyone was into what they were doing and following their own path. At first I thought I had lost control–that is what it felt like. Then I realized that the control was not lost it just shifted.
“…the more pure of heart and intention I can be in the classroom, the more my students will appreciate this, and start to reach out and learn. “Winging it”, “tap-dancing and farting”, whatever you want to call it — is a best practice in arriving at purity of heart and intention. It strips away at the objectives, standards, curriculum, and allows the true nature of an educator to come out; one where the educator says (usually in a panic), “I hope something, anything, is learned today.” Unfettered by a Design, the teacher focuses on the important things. virginal, unsullied by the trappings of what is meant to capture learning rather than educe it.”
I think somewhere in the last few years I slipped into trying to control their learning. I wanted to capture their excitement and curiosity by making them do incredible things…and we did. But at what cost? In my attempt to do things first, do things that used cool gadgets and gizmos, do things that captured the kids learning and empower them, was I actually doing it to just empower myself? As my control in the classroom was slipping due to standardized policies being implemented was my all out attempt to make them do amazing things simply fulfilling something I was missing?
Does it matter?