Is School Encouraging Learning or Damaging It?

George Couros wrote an interesting article about how school and learning aren’t necessarily the same thing.  As a teacher, this is almost a slap in the face! But in true reflection, you have to stop and think…he has a good point.

He lists several ways that the two are separated, but his biggest point is “School promotes starting by looking for answers.  Learning promotes starting with questions.”  This is so true! Every day I asked my students “What is the definition of _____?”,  “What does _____ mean?” and so on! I kept them busy searching for answers when I should have had them create their own questions and then find/think of the answer for themselves!

In school we are usually given a topic to study or research.  If you were like me, you probably thought your topic was pretty boring and you’d never think about it again after you turned it in!  How can we fix this? Projects that are passion-based! This is a new style of education that is coming about where the students use their passion to drive them to learn! {If I hate reading, but love butterflies I will be more willing to read a book about butterflies than cars.}

I’ve tried to use this in my classroom already, without realizing what it was! Instead of having my lower students read The Grapes of Wrath, we read Divergent.  Students that usually hated reading were reading ahead (a new challenge!) and loving reading! {Teaching win moment!}

Another way that teachers can help with passion-based learning is by getting excited and showing that excitement to the students. That excitement can be contagious and soon everyone in the room is in a good mood and ready to learn about something they would otherwise hate!

This is also a tested approach in my room! Believe it or not, but eighth graders and all the way up to seniors are NOT that excited about English and learning different parts of speech or reading novels about things they don’t care about.  Unfortunately, these things have to be done at least some of the time so they can truly learn things that they need to know!  In order to get this done, I’ve had to embarrass myself in front of them {which is difficult since I am only a few years older than they are} by singing or even rapping about words. After the blushing and sweating became normal, I could see the students smiling and enjoying learning! I would even hear them singing or rapping as they were in the halls or when I gave them review/study time! {Teaching win!}

I would love how to do more effective things like this in my classroom and really improve myself to improve my students! Reading these articles really make me feel better about myself realizing that I’ve only taught for one year, but I’ve already done some good things!


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