Saturday, January 30, 2010

What gets you through the day may not get you through the night

"...engagement as a route to mastery is a powerful force in our personal lives. While omplying can be an effective strategy for physical survival, it's a lousy one for personal fulfillment. Living a statisfying life requires more than simply meeting the demands of those in control. Yet in our offices and our classrooms we have way too much compliance and way too little engagement. the former might get you through the day, but only the latter will get you through the night."

Dan Pink wrote these words in his book Dive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. For me as a classroom teacher, his words carry a mean punch.

I am more than ever committed to creating a learning environment for my students where they can engage in more autonomy in their learning so that they can develop mastery.

This inspired me to clean out my school's science prep room, which had become a dumping ground for storage, and turn it into a science experiment room where students can actively engage in science experiments of the students choice.

The first observation I made was that too often teachers blame students misbehavior on the kid when really we should see the misbehaviour as a message - and the message may be that we are not providng children with an autonomous and engaging curriculum.

Just today, I had a grade 8 boy design and impliment an experiment that he thought of. The ironic part is that when I planned the experiment for him and asked him to do it a week ago he accomplished absolutely nothing and was even less engaged. But when he felt a sense of autonomy, he became rather productive.

Sadly, he is the kind of boy that would typically be given no autonomy because he misbehaves and is difficult to trust. It's a vicious cycle that both the boy and teachers continue to fall into - over and over again.

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