In a lot of ways this was a great year. I saw some good learning take place for students and teachers.
When I was preparing for professional development in March I had an insight that changed much of what I've said for years. I used to emphasize the joy of learning. I wanted kids to fall in love with learning. I have always loved to learn, but now that I wrapped up my 19th year as an educator I had to admit something.
I don't think we'll even get close to making everyone fall in love with learning for its own sake.
Yes, the love of learning can make life exciting, but so can the love of a million other things. As teachers, we aren't doing a great job of getting the masses to put their affections in learning itself and I am ready to say now that it's OK. It's like convincing runners to stop running so they can find the joy of painting.
What I realized is that even for all of my love of learning, like everyone else I have probably learned best when I needed to prepare for something important. In fact, those often were the times I least loved the learning that needed to take place!
To put it briefly, here's why school gets it backwards and students miss the point:
- Teachers say students should do things so they learn.
- Students think they do things for credit.
- In reality, we all learn best when it's so we can do something important.