|Notecards? Who still uses notecards?|
Did you learn to use notecards when you were writing a research paper?
I know I did. In middle school. And I'm pretty sure I hated it. It felt like So. Much. Work.
But I know I used that technique for writing throughout high school, and in college, and even in my Master's work.
As I was rummaging through my desk drawers, I came across this packet of notecards that I had forgotten was in there. This stack was part of the research I was doing for a particular paper back when I was working on my Master's degree. The particular paper I was writing was about the problem of classroom boredom, and what teachers can do to counteract boredom. It was about ten years ago, and apparently I still hand wrote notecards in my research process. (Which kind of surprised me, but now I'm glad I did...because I still have this stack.)
I'm thinking about the notion of boredom in school. I am curious how I selected this topic for my paper, actually. My classroom has been described in many ways over the years. I used to survey my middle schoolers to get their take on how thing were going, and they used many words to describe my class: "exciting," "interesting," "weird," "unpredictable," and "noisy" topped the list. I once had a colleague describe my teaching as "whimsical." (I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I think she meant it as a compliment.) I don't recall anyone ever describing my class as "boring"--at least, not to my face--so it's interesting to me that I was so compelled by the subject of classroom boredom that I wrote a 15-page paper about it. Maybe I was worried that I would eventually run out of creative ideas, and might become a boring teacher? Who knows?
The top card in the stack was really interesting to me. I remembered writing it out when I saw it; I know I have quoted it in other places besides my paper, maybe even on this blog. It's a quote by Alfie Kohn, who is a school reform advocate (though some might call him a professional rabble-rouser.) Here it is, in my own handwriting:
Here's the citation for this quote:
Kohn, A. (1993). Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide.
Phi Delta Kappan, 75(1), 8-19.
I still think this is true. So often teachers (and parents?) are lamenting the fact the "kids don't take responsibility" for things--for their learning? For their work? For their behavior?
What if we gave kids a little credit, and expected them to do great things?
What if we gave them the chance to learn to be responsible...by giving them the chance to be responsible? What if we gave them developmentally-appropriate choices, and expected them to learn to make responsible decisions?
Would they fall flat on their face sometimes?
But is that the end of the world?
I guess I'm thinking I'd rather have them fail in small things, learn from it, and develop responsibility and the ability to make wise decisions in the future.
What do you think?
(This post is part of a series about the weird stuff teachers have in their desk drawers. You can read more about this project here, and I hope you'll share the stories of the weird stuff you have in your desk too!)