Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Game of School

"If we teach today's students
as we taught yesterday's,
we rob them of tomorrow."
- John Dewey

This past week I went to the Michigan Theatre to watch the screening of, Most Likely to Succeed.

The video is a trailer and I highly encourage you to check it out.

It's Sunday and I still can't stop thinking of a few things that occurred last week.  The following will be an account of what happened and my process.

First, it all started as I walked up the slight incline at the Michigan Theatre.  I was thinking of the laundry list of things I had to do and if I truly had time to take in this film.  Ultimately, I decided that if I missed it...I would likely regret it.  So, with laptop in tow, I positioned myself in the back third of the theatre and decided to give the film a go.  

To my delight, I was sucked in immediately.  The first three minutes are powerful, and sure to make you think.  In a nutshell, I quickly began thinking, how can I encourage more people to see this?  

The film challenges the way we've done school for the past 100+ years.  Admittedly, I'm a vision person and this spoke loud and clear to me.  

Second, during the film I watched as a couple adults sat down and talked with a group of high school students.  I'll paraphrase the question that they asked, "Would you rather be taught how to get a good grade on a test?"  


"Would you rather be best prepared for the world after school?"

The answers surprised me.  Almost all the high school students in the room wanted to be taught how to ace the test.  

Here is my take on this exchange.  The Game of School can be defined as this.  I go to school for roughly thirteen years.  It begins with understanding routines and procedures.  Most students typically enjoy school from kindergarten to second grade.  Then somewhere during the latter part of elementary or middle school things change.  School becomes task driven and monotonous.  Students begin to lose their joy.  During this process some students learn that school is a game.  They learn to play the game.  They realize if they listen, take notes, turn in homework, study for the test, get good grades on the test and show compliance, they will get into a good college.  If they play the game well, in college they earn a degree, which may assist in getting a good job (or so they believe).

Our current system of school is designed for students that play the game best.  I challenge the status quo and say, "Not all students learn the same way."  It is past the time to revolutionize our schools. Our traditional system works for some...but not all.  So, why don't we adjust?  I believe there is still a need for foundational skills and some traditional methods.  I would hope that we could create a new way of school.  Lets find the balance between foundational skills and passion based.  Lets accentuate our students soft skills and stop the mile wide, inch deep approach.  We should focus on the whole child instead of spending 80% of our time on drill and kill methods.

Third, I read the blog by @alfiekohn titled, To Change What We Do, Consider What We Believe.  In this post  (which I absolutely loved!) Alfie shared the research on rewards in the classroom.  Here is an excerpt from the post...
"The study, conducted by Mark Lepper and his colleagues, asked preschoolers to draw pictures with Magic Markers. Some were promised a reward for drawing; some weren’t. The question was what effect, if any, that reward would have on the children’s interest in drawing a week or two later. Overwhelmingly, Hom reported, students predicted that the kids who had been rewarded would be more enthusiastic about drawing later on. But just the opposite is what actually happened, a result that scores of studies subsequently confirmed with subjects of different ages across many cultures engaged in a variety of activities. The more that people are rewarded for doing something — drawing, reading, sharing, you name it — the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward."
Fascinating!  This third piece of information that I learned basically was telling me, THE WAY YOU'VE ALWAYS DONE IT...DOESN'T WORK!  Now sure, you may see short term results, but over the course of time, those results will taper off.

As I reflect on my week I'm once again challenged to continuously learn, reflect and grow.

This Week's Big Question:  Are you still learning?  If so, how?  Do you read?  Do you write?  Do you attend conferences that push you?  

As a person, have you settled?  Have you decided that you're good enough or, are you striving to improve every day?


Monday, October 26th:  Happy Halloween Week!
Wednesday, October 28th:  All-School Assembly 8:45 in Gym (CP Fed. Credit Union Kick-off!)
Wednesday, October 28th:  PLC Wednesday (I need everyone to meet in Mrs. Kline's room at 3:10.
Thursday, October 29th:  9am TEAM Meeting
Friday, October 30th:  Halloween Parties (Y5/KDG in the AM) Parade at 2pm on the track

Articles Worth Reading:

I would never want your job... @casas_jimmy

We've Sung Every Hymn in the Hymnal @Jeff_Zoul

Stop Googling. Let's Talk @nytimes

How one student becomes a reader. @DebraRosenquist

How to have Courageous Conversations with your child's teacher @pernilleripp

9 Things All Healthy Couples Do @marcandangel

5 "Be's" for Connected and Curious Educators @edutopia

Videos Worth Watching:

A Daughter's Touching Serenade to her sick mom. (5 min) @TheEllenShow

How to fix a broken school (17 min)

Jimmy Fallon and Tom Hanks in Kid Theatre (7 min)

Jimmy uses the Dubsmash App (4 min)

Secret Life of Dogs (3 min)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Ben. After reading your post and Todd Bloch's post today, I am definitely going to see this film! It really does boil down to what we believe and are we open to change. Thanks for the thought provoking post!!