I read an interesting post today by Franki over at A Year of Reading . She was talking about what she’s learned as a teacher/librarian by watching her daughter, Ana, become a blogger. Reflecting on the writing growth she has seen in her fifth grade child, Franki wrote:
“As a teacher, reflecting on Ana’s blogging, I keep going back to a quote I heard from Christian Long this summer. He said, “While there is often talk about making school ‘fun’, the real trick is to challenge our students with work that they can deeply believe in, work that matters and gives them a chance to make an impact on the world around them. When school is merely about keeping kids ‘busy’, then kids often ask for ‘fun’. On the other hand, when the work is authentic and powerful, kids rise to the challenge. Every time.”
I couldn’t agree more. Every time. REAL work—work that has a real audience, with a real purpose, and produces a real product that will really be used by someone else—is challenging and, not a surprise, fun! Far more important than collecting a bunch of games, creating flashcards, or giving children free time or centers, is building a curriculum that teaches core standards by allowing students to engage in meaningful, real work that can have an impact on the world.
During my teaching career, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the content real to my students, but I don’t think I ever gave a single thought to what my students “deeply believe in”, either when setting out to develop my teaching content for the year, or when evaluating the work that was going on. This might be the perfect place to begin taking a look at educational reforms that will meet the needs of workers in an era when the most necessary jobs five years from now haven’t been invented yet! Wow! This gives me a LOT to think about.