Starters…

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I begin each class with a writing prompt. I mentioned them in an earlier blog post…my zombie apocalypse prompt turned into something bigger than I had anticipated, but I was completely okay with it. My kids were thinking hard.

Today’s prompt was this: If you give one piece of advice to any person in history, that advice would be…

My music appreciation class seemed to have a difficult time with this. A few very quickly said that they would tell _______ not to get in the car or go to work on the day they died. Others took a little longer to decide. Several mentioned stopping the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy. One even said she’d tell Hitler’s mom to have an abortion.

One kid stopped me with his answer. He said, “I’d tell whoever invented school to not do it.”

Well, holy hell.

This did not come from a student I know very well. Until a week ago, my only real interaction with him was passing in the hallway…I just don’t know where he’s coming from to know why he doesn’t like school. I questioned him a bit. “What is it about school that you don’t like?” (Now I thinking of about a 100 different ways I could have phrased that differently instead of making it a like/don’t like choice, but too late now.)

To paraphrase the conversation….other students chimed in with their opinions…my kids are dissatisfied with the fact that they all have to take the same classes as everyone else. They don’t see the point. They want to learn about what they want to learn about. (duh!)

I’m not sure if it was the right thing to do…or if it was the wrong thing…maybe both…but I told the class, “I have a video that sort of addresses what you guys are saying. I’m not sure if I should show it to you or not. You may not like it. You may not understand it all. But, I’ll show it if you want to watch it.”

They said they’d give it a shot so I hooked up the projector and speakers and brought up Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk. (Thanks for sharing it, Jack. It’s a game changer for me.)

To be completely honest, I didn’t think they’d watch the whole thing. I totally love it and geek out over it, but I didn’t expect a class of high schoolers to stick with it. But, they did. And they did it without talking. They were mesmerized. (I was shocked.) We had a good discussion afterward about what they saw/heard and their thoughts.

What I took away from sharing that video with my students was this: they care about their education. (Yes, earth shattering, isn’t it?) I think a lot of times kids are classified as lazy and apathetic when they’re really just bored. They want meaning. They want choice. We’re not giving it to them. We’re giving them a one size fits all education that doesn’t work. The more I think about, the more angry I get. I get angry for my students and I get angry for my own children. We’re failing them by not accepting the fact that they have different needs and different talents. FAILING THEM!

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting complete and total anarchy in the education system. I don’t think we need to toss out everything that’s good and everything that works in the name of transformation. But, we need to figure out if what’s good and what works is really working for our students or is it working for us?

We did eventually get to the lesson plan for the day, but I’m glad we took our little side trip into ed talk. My kids needed it. They need to feel like they have a voice and that someone is listening. ..even if it’s “just” me. But, in talking to them I realize there has to be a revolution. We can’t keep doing this thinking it’s right. It’s not.

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Comments
  1. chris says:

    “my zombie apocalypse prompt turned into something bigger than I had anticipated….”

    Can you please explain this one? I was planning on using some of these prompts in my registration time next year, (I start back this Friday. eek!). I also happen to be an authority on the zombie apocalypse in as much as I own a survival guide for such an event, so this was very intriguing.

    It’s very interesting to hear you had such success with the Ken Robinson speech. I have thought about showing it but like you, was unsure whether they would stick with it. Was this an opt in group or was it a full class?
    Thanks,
    C

    • aprilestep says:

      The prompt was “Choose 6 people to be on your zombie apocalypse team. They can be real or fictional, living or dead. What’s your team’s plan for survival.” (You can read about it in an earlier blog post.) It created some good discussion and the kids were really into it.

      As for the Ken Robinson speech, I really had no plans to show it to my students but the conversation came up and I just went with it. I was very surprised at how attentive they were. It was a full class…a mixed group of 9-12 students.

      Let me know how it goes if you decide to show it.

  2. chris says:

    Thanks. I did have a look, but couldn’t see the post. Could you post a link or something?
    That zombie thing sounds perfect. That might actually take a whole week for my lot.
    I am just doing a post now in reply to your blog, kind of. I’ll link you blog once it’s up.
    You can see mine at musiceducationlife.blogspot.com.
    You’ve just made my first week back that little bit easier.

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