As I was finishing off the last crumbs of pumpkin pie after the big, annual Richardson Thanksgiving Day feast, I caught this snip of a conversation between two extended family members, one a 24-year old girl who was struggling to finish college, the other a girl in middle school who clearly was not enjoying it.
“I hate school,” the younger one said. “It’s all about stupid stuff that no one cares about.”
“I know,” said the older one. “They just make you study boring stuff and memorize it for a test and then you just forget it all anyway. That’s not the way people learn.”
It’s not the first time I (or you) has heard this or some variation on the theme. But here it was again, delivered in pained, frustrated tones that made me close my eyes, take a deep breath, and once again wonder why.
Why, when we know that this is what by and large school does to kids, why do we keep doing this? I mean, I know the whys that everyone cites. But why do we give those reasons more cred than it’s just not right to be boring and disengaging kids from learning regardless of what policy makers or parents or whoever else doing the counting want?
We gotta stop.
“The teachers follow the children, not plans” (Kindle 1561).
In other words, it’s about learning, not teaching. We’re so wedded to our lesson plans and curriculum guides and on that we’ve forgotten the focus of our work. It’s not science or history or Shakespeare or calc. It’s kids…learning. Learning how to learn.
This isn’t rocket science. If we care at all about the fact that we’re creating another whole generation of disengaged learners in schools, just start following the kids. Let them lead. As Malaguzzi also says:
“The objective of education is to increase possibilities for the child to invent and discover. Words should not be used as a shortcut to knowledge. Like Piaget, we agree that the aim of teaching is to provide conditions for learning” (Kindle 1451).
Yeah. Go do that.
(Image credit: Vanessa Bumbeers)