Many people think that educating a child is akin to filling a cup. Open heads and pour in knowledge, skills, and virtues. This metaphor is seductive because it calls on deeply-held stereotypes that paint poor and minority children as not having enough drive and smarts.
But the original meaning of education is “to draw out,” not to “fill up.” . . . [we] need to create classrooms that draw out what students already have inside them. Often times, current performance underestimates potential.
[We need to address] the dearth of opportunities for teenage students to feel like [they are] respected and valued in the asylum-like settings of many middle and high schools
[We need to address] curricula that prioritize busy work over reflective thinking that awakens students’ curiosity
Thoughts on the message below? Motivating or punitive? Celebratory or disenfranchising? Meaningful choice or duress? What do you think?
As a celebration for students working hard on Iowa Assessments, we are taking all 6-8 graders who showed improvement or evidence of effort to Perfect Games.
The schedule is listed below. All students will start their day at the middle school and either go to Perfect Games from 10-12 or 12:30-2:30. They will be able to bowl or play laser tag and relax and interact with their friends. We will return to the school to eat school lunch. Students may bring extra money to purchase snacks or play additional games, however this is not necessary, and large amounts of money should NOT be brought.
Those who attend Perfect Games in the morning will have classes/support/work time in the afternoon. Those who go to Perfect Games in the afternoon will have that structured time in the morning. (It is not a half day off and attendance will be counted.)
The vast majority of our students did as we expected, putting effort into assessments and showing growth. The very small number of students who didn’t take the test seriously have been notified or will be notified by this Wednesday that they won’t be attending. Parents will also be contacted if their child has not earned this privilege.
Please let the main office know if you do not want your child to participate in this activity.
Autonomy. Mastery/competence. Purpose. Relatedness. These are four principles around which we can build powerful learning environments for students. They also are four principles which are violated nearly every single day in most classrooms in America. Ask yourself these questions about your own classrooms:
Autonomy: Do students have freedom to make meaningful choices in school, and does that freedom increase as they get older? Or are they told what to do almost every minute of every day?
Mastery/competence: Do students want to be good at the things that we ask them to do in school? Or do they just do those things because we ask or force them? Do students get to work at their optimal level of challenge? Or do they have to do the same things as everyone else, regardless of their own learning needs and readiness?
Purpose: Do students see the meaning and relevance of what we ask them to do in school? Or do they struggle to see the authenticity and purpose of the things that we have them do?
Relatedness: Do students get to connect and collaborate with others in meaningful ways in school? Or do they primarily do their own work in isolation from others?
Reading over these questions, it’s easy to see why students are disengaged from the learning tasks that we give them. The big question is whether we care. So far, most of our school systems don’t seem too bothered by their environmental deficiencies when it comes to fostering internal motivation.
Our actions put the lie to our school mission statements that state that we’re about creating “self-motivated, life-long learners.” The result is that
most of what [our students] experience during school hours passes over them like the shadow of a cloud, or through them like an undigested seed. They may be present in the classroom, but they are not really there. Their pencils may be chugging away on the worksheets or the writing prompts or math problems laid out for them, but their intelligence is running on two cylinders at best. They pay some attention to what their teacher happens to be telling them, but their imagination has moved elsewhere. . . .
And, worst of all, by the time our kids have reached fourth or fifth grade, they think what they are experiencing in school is normal. [Robert Fried, The Game of School, p. 1]
As school leaders and classroom teachers, how long can we continue to ignore core principles of intrinsic motivation?
Textbooks are unbelievably dull and dense … no one should scratch their head at students’ lack of interest in reading when schools require students to read the most uninteresting writing that exists day after day