Improving our community by collecting data and investigating the causes of local environmental challenges is inspiring. Participating in artificial, recipe-like science ‘experiments’ from a publishing company is not.
Wrestling with controversial but important political issues is inspiring. Regurgitating decontextualized historical names, dates, and places is not.
Writing for and advocating to authentic audiences around societal issues that we’re passionate about is inspiring. Writing 5-paragraph essays about books that we don’t care about is not.
Investigating our own questions about the world and how it works is inspiring. Spitting back the ‘right answer’ to someone else’s low-level questions is not.
Finding areas of interest and passion is inspiring. Slogging through a lifeless textbook is not.
Active, energetic, enthusiastic, maybe messy, and probably noisy collaboration is inspiring. Working in isolation and sitting quietly in rows and columns are not.
Using technology to learn with and from students in other parts of the world is inspiring. Using technology to complete digital worksheets is not.
Interdisciplinary learning that is seen by students as meaningful, authentic, and connected to the real world is inspiring. Subject-siloed, isolated, disconnected learning is not.
Internships and community partnerships and impactful service learning opportunities are inspiring. Pretend word problems and scenarios are not.
Learning spaces that honor children’s dignity and value their worth are inspiring. Learning spaces that are overwhelmingly focused on compliance are not.
And so on…
Inspiring… or not. What vision are we selling to our students, parents, and communities?
And, no, we don’t have to do the uninspiring before we can get to the inspiring, particularly if we rarely get beyond the former…