I believe that a student getting an education should have three goals: work, learn, and enjoy. These should be the same three goals of their teachers, and the educational institution they attend. While I think that these three goals remain at the core of the beliefs upon which everything in education is built upon, as I talk with the graduating seniors this year about their educational experience, I wonder if educators and education have 1) fail to communicate to students that these are our goals, and 2) lost sight of our goals while trying to appease forces outside of education.
Getting an education should be work, hard work. I make my students work hard and they are shocked by it. However, I don’t make them work as hard as they should, and that shocks me. Many teachers will assign packets of “busywork” (the students’ description) in lieu of projects, reports, and essays. Sure, packets are easier to grade, but they are also easier for the students to fake. I often see kids copying each others answers in these lengthy packets of worksheets. For the students to work hard, the teacher must work hard, and don’t we already work hard enough?
The larger question is do teachers work hard at the right things? Are we working hard to teach our students to learn? I am afraid that we are raising a generation who do not know how to learn, and cannot solve problems independently. When I raised this concept in class I had a young lady ask me what learning was? Scary. As reflective teachers I think we need to focus on not just the content of the courses we teach, but the process. Are you teaching your students how to find information, synthesize it, and apply what they have learned?
I said many times that school should be fun, and some teachers disagree with me. Ok. But at least students should enjoy the process of gaining education. Think about it, we like to do things that we like to do. Do your students like to learn? Do they enjoy the learning process? Do they enjoy working hard to reach the goals set by you in your classroom? I believe that they should. It’s easy to point out that school teaching isn’t real fun for teachers right now. It’s not. But our frustration should not be passed on to our pupils.
I am the educational leader in my classroom. I intend to maintain the following three goals for my students: 1) that they work hard at the assignments I give them, 2) that they learn how to learn and problem solve on their own, and 3) that no matter what the task is at hand, that they enjoy the process of working and learning. Perhaps it is not possible for all students and teachers all the time. I can’t change that. What I can do is keep myself and my students focused on what makes an education so valuable and worthwhile.