We hold this truth to be self-evident: Learning is fun. In fact we’d go so far as to say that learning new things can be one of the most exciting, engaging, and fun things you can do. Exploration, discovery, and creativity are all vital parts of the learning process. And they all can be insanely fun. So this leaves us asking the question: why isn’t school more fun? If students are truly learning, they should be enjoying it. Right?
I saw something a few days ago that bothered me, and I’m compelled to tell the story to illustrate our point. It was Back-to-School night. A brother of a student of mine sat in my room working on homework while parents came in and out. This brother is a good kid from a great family. He’s a freshman at one of our city’s magnet public high schools. This school is fairly selective--entrance exam, interview, the whole she-bang. The school’s reputation is one of academic excellence; they pride themselves on being exclusive and academically rigorous.
This kid was really working hard, huddled over his history book and writing furiously into a notebook. When I had a free minute, I asked him what he was working on. “Copying the Declaration of Independence,” he replied.
I had two thoughts initially...1). He’s kidding. 2). He means he’s re-writing it in his own words. I inquired to find out if either of these was correct. Nope. This 14 year old had been assigned to literally copy the Declaration of Independence. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t help but ask his mom about it.
“You don’t have a problem with that?” I asked her. In short, she told me that this particular history teacher was regarded as one of the best in the school and that, if nothing else, this assignment would be “an easy A.”
I’m going to stop for a minute and let that all sink in...
I don’t think I’m making too big of a leap when I assume the following: If this kind of assignment is being given at this particular exclusive high school, it’s probably being given elsewhere. Maybe not exactly the same assignment, but assignments that are equally pointless and boring.
Is this what it’s come to? Is this what we want from education? Is this what it’s supposed to be all about? Our answer, of course, is a resounding “NO,” but why isn’t that everyone’s answer? Why in the world are any kids in this country being assigned to copy anything out of a book?
To those of you who are as appalled by this as we are, please know you are not alone. Engaging Educators exists for the simple reason that we believe school should be fun, exciting, and meaningful.
To those of you looking for a way to change education, to make learning as fun and invigorating as it should be (for both students and teachers), please know that we are with you. And we’re here to help.
It’s time to stop talking about changing the way we teach kids and to actually change the way we teach kids. 21st century students need more from us. They deserve more. If you want more out of teaching and learning--whether you’re a teacher, a principal, a superintendent, a professor, a parent, or a student--please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll work with you to find ways to make learning what it should be...engaging and fun.