Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. - Carl Jung
Turns out this crusty old gal has become rather reflective. Amid all the chatter surrounding 21st century learning I keep coming back to these basic questions:
What is it we want the people in our buildings to learn?
At the end of their time with us, what is the take away?
Not a simple question as demonstrated by the myriad of blogs, articles, and books on the topic. It's messy. Messy in the way a delicious meal is messy. An array of flavours dripping, blending, stimulating our taste buds until we groan with pleasure. So what does this have to do with education?
I tend to be a dreamer. Dreaming is good in terms of choosing the end result, but dreaming alone doesn't get you there. As I shift from dreaming to reflection I've become curious about the 'how-to' in allowing the people in our buildings dream room - not to be confused with the ever-present daydreams. More-so, I wonder about moving those dreams forward into a tangible, measurable reality; for staff and students. So what does this have to do with choices?
Choices are inevitable. Some good, some better, some best. Some not so good, and some harmful.
Years ago when teaching grade 7 math we had a very clever young man in our class who showed us a new way of doing division. He came to the chalk board, demonstrated, explained, and with great confidence proved to us all, especially me, that there was another way to get the answer. He was 12. He made a choice to get to his end result a new way. Choices!
Consider the many things our students choose daily:
- what to wear
- what to eat
- who to play with/hang out with during breaks
- do their work
- follow instructions
- be kind
- ask for help
...the list goes on. We often take for granted that our students know how to choose well. They simply choose not to. I agree with Ross Greene in his premise that it's more of CAN'T than WON'T. Our challenge is teaching the skill of stopping and considering the outcome of their choices. They have options.
Mental Health considerations aside, most of our students, even the highly impulsive ones can increase their capacity in good choice making.
My provisional answers:
What is it we want them to learn? At the end of 12-13 years what do we want them to take away?
As they end their K -12 schooling I want my students to have experienced enough 'good stuff' that they are compelled to keep on learning. I want them to know how to find the information they need to solve problems.
I want them to have learned the skill of choosing to be kind.
I want them to have good memories of the past 12-13 years. I want them to know that there are options; they have the resources within themselves to move dreams to reality.
I want them to know how to get up if they fall. I want them to have left their options open but if they've burned some bridges along the way I want them to know that they can find a new road to travel. Think detours, not dead ends!
I want them to know that asking for help is often the wisest option. I want them to have the courage to ask. I want them to know how/where to access help.
I want them to have the courage to stand against what the majority is doing, if that is what their heart is telling them to do. I want them to have learned how to challenge, with respect, the status quo/'the way we've always done things' thinking, even when faced with resistance.
Most of all I want them to know that although life is messy, painful, and sometimes overwhelming, they can go on. They can make that choice!
The skill of making choices; benign, good, or better, when mixed with hope brings endless possibilities. It blends the ingredients that together make life delicious.
Above all else, better is possible.