I recently had a casual conversation with our Personalized Learning Coordinator during lunch where we discussed a very interesting (and important) topic pertaining to the general direction education has taken. Children (and teachers) are so stressed with preparing for standardized tests, that they lose sight of what is truly important. Is it important that children memorize and “learn” material, just to take a test and quickly forget all about it? Is it less important for the children to actually enjoy what they are learning? I applaud schools and educators that reject the general path and veer towards what they believe is more important; creating life-long learners that LOVE what they learn. I personally believe that teaching students to learn, for learning’s sake, is one of the most valuable tools I will leave them with. Recently, I had my students research the Lemurs of Madagascar, after a 90 minute class discussion on evolution and speciation. I had assigned a short 1 page reflection, and what I received exceeded my expectations by far. Some of my students went way beyond the three questions I required them to answer. They youtube’d videos, they investigated several theories, and when the due date came around, they could not wait to discuss their findings. They were so excited to share, discuss, and most importantly learn about this topic.
Another example of this love for learning is with a project my 8th graders had last week. My students learned about forces while constructing bridges made out of popsicle sticks. After the project was graded, several students asked if they could continue to add on to their bridges during study hall. Their bridges turned out beautifully!