There has been a kind of running joke between my students and me about how I deconstruct Disney movies with my kids to reveal the “deeper” meaning of the film for them. Actually, I do that, but that’s not the purpose of this blog.
I love to hear, “My brain hurts.” I think I do a good job at creating lessons that reach a deeper level for the students. Many times my students do better on their Literacy Skills AR test than the Reading Practice test. But, at some point a student will ask, “Does everything have to be so deep?”
Yes, yes it does.
OK, maybe not so deep but I think we have to have a serious WHY to what we do. Teachers have to answer that question all the time, but maybe it is something to really consider. And not just for a lesson, but for our lives.
In school, sometimes we have to practice a skill, like math or welding. Sometimes we have to learn new vocabulary so that we can look at a subject on a deeper level. And sometimes a lesson is just fun or relaxed. Many times in school the WHY is based on test scores or grades. A look at those parameters and learning is for another blog. But schools have to have some measurement and we will leave it at that for now.
Let me give you a stat: “Thirty percent of college and university students drop out after their first year. Half never graduate, and college completion rates in the United States have been stalled for more than three decades,” from US News and World Report.
Is the WHY of school to prepare students for college? Or should it be to help them live up to their greatest expression of their talent and dreams? WHY are we doing what we are doing? I know that I am in a unique situation that lets me investigate education from a different aspect while also being in the “classroom” dealing with the real world of teaching. Being at this intersection is frustrating and motivating. I would love to change education, but in reality I am not much of an influence. But like you, I have a classroom, students, and a life to live.
This year I had one of those great teacher moments when a former student tagged me in a photograph on Facebook. The photo was of a slide that had graffiti scratched into it, the worst kind. This former student is a father now and was spending time with his son at the park when he came across the graffiti. Part of his post, “Made me think of the book The Catcher in the Rye. Kids and their innocence.”
What we do in the classroom matters. What we do in life matters. It might make your brain hurt, but I ask you to answer your own WHY questions this summer.