(Link to Article)
In shadowing two of her students in an effort to gain more insight into their daily routines at school, the anonymous author of this article learned much more than she bargained for. The key points she took away from her time shadowing the students are eye opening, so much so that I would like to try this exercise for myself to internalize the lessons learned.
In "key takeaway #1," the author notes that "students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting." At my school site, I spend my work periods sitting at a student desk for hours at a time, focused on nothing else than getting my work done. Thankfully I don't do this every day, but when I do my body is seriously sore. Not only is it uncomfortable to sit for that long, it's unhealthy. If students are to be engaged in learning, shouldn't their bodies also have the opportunity to be engaged in movement through out their day?
Her second Key Takeaway is that "High School students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes." For me, this seems to connect in a profound way with the first takeaway. Not only are students sitting all day in their classes, they are expected to sit and listen 90% of the time. And we wonder why the present model of the majority of education isn't working. How in the world can anyone be expected to stay awake, let alone learn and feel challenged, in this kind of system? If the goal of education for students is to think deeper and more critically, certainly sitting passively for 90% of their day in school is the exact opposite way of bringing about this kind of engagement.
How can we address the issues presented in these first two takeaways? Get students moving! Motivate their bodies, motivate their brains. I'm dreaming of lessons where students must move about the room, interact with each other, and direct their own learning. In her writing, and example of this takes place when students "come in to class and write [their essential questions from the previous night's homework] all on the board, and then, as a group, ask them to choose which one we start with and which ones need to be addressed."
The final takeaway is certainly the most heartbreaking, "you feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long." Here's a system in which we're sitting students behind desks all day and making them listen passively 90% of the time, and to top it off we're making them feel unwanted. Like they're inconveniencing us with their presence in our class. And that's just wrong. Of course they won't do their homework, challenge themselves on that essay, or feel motivated to graduate when they feel reduced to a nuisance 5 out of 7 days a week at minimum.
The moral of this story explains using real experiences what we've been talking about all along: we can't keep doing it this way. Let's get them up, get them moving and get them excited about learning.
Wiggins, G. (2014, October, 10). A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/a-veteran-teacher-turned-coach-shadows-2-students-for-2-days-a-sobering-lesson-learned/