Sunday, October 9, 2016

Breaking News: High School Is Not Supposed to be Boring

       Too many parents have this idea that says, "If it was good enough when I was in high school, than it's good enough for my kids."  Of course, they hated it when they were in high school.  But for some reason, they are "OK" with the same boring classes and senseless assignments for their own children.

       I'm talking about high school classes with:

  • students sitting in rows
  • teacher always standing in the front of the room
  • worksheets, worksheets, worksheets
  • very little (or none) students discussing, asking questions, or working together
  • homework on stuff they already know how to do
  • no use of educational technology
       I've seen high school classrooms with multiple students who have their heads on their desks and the teacher seems to be "OK" with this.  Too many classes in which the teacher asks the class something like, "Do you understand?" and one student says "Yes" and the teacher assumes that everyone in the class understands.  And the students know that this is going to happen and they don't want to say out loud that they don't get it.  I've actually heard parents say to their children, "School is supposed to be boring.  That's just the way it is."  They believe this and (now) their children believe this.

       I've got breaking news for all of the parents and students who believe that school is supposed to be boring.

It does not have to be this way.

       Think about your favorite teacher in high school.  Or think about your child's favorite teacher in high school.  What makes this teacher so special?  Why does this teacher stand out among all of the high school teachers you've ever had?  Was he or she boring?  Do they appear to not care if you passed or failed?  Of course not.  We've got lots of high school teachers who work hard every day to engage their students in the learning.  They believe that it is their responsibility to ensure that all students are learning; and they understand that students cannot learn solely by sitting and listening.  

       Learning requires doing, talking, listening, questioning, arguing (at times), trying and failing and trying again.  Students need to get out of their seats during class from time to time (or everyday)--especially in high school classes that last 80 or 90 minutes.  High school students should work in small groups without the teacher for part of the class.  They do it in elementary school and middle school; so they can do it in high school too.  We have teachers who understand this very well and they establish a true learning environment in their classrooms.  Students know that these teachers really care about their learning and they make an effort to encourage the learning everyday.

       High school isn't supposed to be boring.  Learning rarely happens in the context of "boring".  Compliance may happen; memorization may happen; even decent grades may happen.  But learning won't happen.  And if learning isn't happening, then what's the point of school?

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