Tuesday, April 7, 2015
What We Want Our Kids to Be
As a parent, I want my children to be more and have more than I did and will in my lifetime. That mentality was instilled in me years ago by my parents, who dedicated themselves to making sure I went to college and got a good education so that I could truly follow my passions. I seek the same for my own children and the students who learn at my school. I have found this to be a common notion among parents; we naturally want what is best for our kids and we want them to be successful. But, I find myself intervening frequently, creating opportunities for them to find their passions and interests. However, this past week over break, after watching my boys play and have their occasional disagreements, I stopped in my tracks to ask a few questions.
What does their success really look like? What do we want our kids to be? How can we make this happen?
During our long car ride on our spring break trip, I carefully listened and watched my boys playing and conversing with each other. Typically, I tend to try to break up the fights before they get out of hand, but a couple of times I stopped in my tracks and let them “duke” it out. It was an interesting revelation. When I let them “duke” it out, the majority of the time, with a few mistakes and mishaps, the boys resolved the conflict and moved on. They didn’t need my intervention. They needed to figure it out for themselves. And when they did so, the happiness lasted longer and all boys were much more satisfied with the resolution.
I want my kids to be independent. I want them to THINK and solve problems. I will not always be around to help them, and thus they need to figure out how to solve the issues themselves.
This goes into the classroom as well. We want our kids to be thinkers and problem-solvers. We want them to MAKE their learning. We want them to be EMPOWERED to seek answers and solve issues on their own. They should not be regurgitators, memorizers, or compliant doers in our classrooms. We want our kids to be inquirers and seekers of their own knowledge, making mistakes and fixing their own mistakes.
Trust me, I do not want my kids to fail. I don’t want any child to fail. But through failure and mistakes, we learn. We all do. I am not who I am today without the mistakes and failures of my past. They have made me a stronger person. It is hard to watch any child struggle, but through those struggles, children discover, and it is this discovery we need all classrooms.
Here is my point. Our classrooms today STILL look like they did when we were in school, even though we want better and more for our kids today. We have placed technology and other tools in the classroom, but are still doing the same things with them. And, as we all know, not all children learn the same way, react the same way to content, and are able to show their mastery in the same way. Yet, we expect every child to take the same test, fill out the same planner, and create a project in the same way. Mistakes are frowned upon throughout the system, and only “passing” or performing “at grade level” at that moment is deemed effective. Is this what we want for our children? Do we want the same for them as we had during our schooling?
In order for our system to change, we must do something differently. But, what does that look like? How can we change a system that we have no clue what it should look like and how it should function?
Our kids need to create it. We need to take a step back and let them take the reigns. We need to embrace the differences in how children learn and can show their learning, giving them the tools, time, and ability to demonstrate their uniqueness. We need to enable our students to transform the classroom, delivering personalized experiences to change the way they see school. I am discovering and learning more about the Maker Movement, and I am so excited to see the possibilities for our children. I want this at my school, and want to inspire all of my staff and students to take on this challenge.
In order for us to change our system, we need to work together collaboratively to make it happen. We must enter each other’s classrooms and schools to see these differences. And we need to include the students. Sit down and talk with them. What do they want their learning atmosphere to look like? What do they want to learn more about? Create?
To move forward in creating this better place for our kids, we must open our doors and our conversations. We need to embrace risk-taking and student-led discussions. If we want our kids to be innovative, we need to step aside and let it happen.