I wonder what effect our societies’ low expectations of adolescents has on their development? What does it do to one’s identity when often we give our teenagers so very few meaningful roles or real work to do? That the five hours they spend in classes a day often results in rote learning that is frequently memorized the night before an exam and then forgotten. What if instead, high school students spent five hours a day constructing an identity while responding creatively to their moment in history? What if they were told they can change the world now?
I recently had the privilege of convening for three days with 37 educators who are passionate about education. We forfeited technology for the company of fellow teachers, consultants, administrators, university professors and school trustees. No cell phone reception. No Internet connection. Unplug’d. We were wholly engaged and attentive to the discussions at hand, as we considered what matters and why. This is my contribution.
I love the flip. I do. And I realize by saying this I’m making a controversial statement. I believe if used judiciously, in the right context, the flip can free up valuable class time and provide the background knowledge that is fundamental for students to then go forward and wrestle with higher order thinking. Bottom line: it’s not always the right instructional choice, it’s only one tool in our educational repertoire. But it can be a powerful one.
Most of our current classes structurally discourage cooperation and collaboration. For many hours of the day, our students are expected to sit and learn by themselves. I have to confess that all of the years I’ve taught, my classroom has been teacher-centered. Students facing the front. Me talking. Next year my classroom will be different.
And while school is almost over, my learning is not — because I’m connected. This summer for vacation, I don’t plan to vacate or take a course that in the end would probably leave me tired and weary. Instead, I plan to spend the summer in artful restoration, through passionate, fun, deep learning. I won’t be learning how to be a better teacher. Those days are over. In reality, it’s not what my students need.