I like the quote about the pupil who’s thanking for knowledge or coaching, but coming from school I see some obstacles. Few mentors/teachers and a strict corriculum. My thoughts wanders yet again to what the school are and what it should become. I don’t want to get thanked, but I want school to have a greater purpose to pupils then just getting grades and later on a job.
I like the wide walls because it provides multiple pathways. Students can follow their passion in choosing the pathway that interest them. This would allow autonomy for children.
In my personal experience in teaching kids, I offer various programmes for children to choose from. The learning is self-paced and students are allowed to choose minimum 3 programmes.
I notice children have different interests. They like to learn what motivates them regardless of what their peers choose. I was surprised to see that because I always thought kids like to do what their peers do. The passion plays a great role in learning and I enjoy seeing it.
I was really struck by Natalie’s comment that instead of just focusing on where kids are struggling we should recognized and pay attention to their strengths. Knowing what they are good/interested/passionate about allows building on those areas to help them branch out to related, more general concepts. as Mitch says about bicycles and gears.
I work in software for a ‘learning company’, HMH, where I think these insights into effective teaching can be translated into real products to help improve early education.
I was reading your comment
My suggestion is to offer children experiences in the areas of:
boredom and fun, or a blend of the two, […] to make them better prepared to what life is going to face them with…
and I tough you might be able to answer a question I always ask myself when I hear similar comments
I get the idea that life is not always fun, I think we all agree… but why is it an assumption that kids dont already have enough of the sad and hard parts of life without school wanting to add on top of that?
kids learn all the time (very often more out of school than during class unfortunately) and that does include a lot of hard and sad life learning … being a child is definitively not “easy-peasy” and life if usually very good at teaching kids that part by itself without school hammering it down on them on top of that dont you think?
shouldn’t the role of an education system be to help kids learn how to cope better with the hard things they have to go through in their life instead of adding additional burdens on them?
I would really like to hear your toughs on that
maybe it would help me understand this position better
“Hard fun” resonates with me. I used to tell my students to work hard and play hard, but why can’t the two come together?
Also, “wide walls.” As an artist, projects that look different are a must, so maybe the idea of wide wasn’t new. But as an educator, I don’t want to forget that there should be walls–even very wide ones–there should be some kind of boundary to guide students toward a goal and to give them focus. Sometimes I forget about the walls altogether, but they should be there.
The only way to do a great job is to love what you do.-Steve Jobs.
I think that when you are a programmer and you love what you do, programs unceasingly. When you are a teacher and you love that work, you learn and teach with passion. When both professions are combined in the classroom, students can learn the best of them.
"The best learning experiences go through alternating phases of immersion and reflection".
That’s how one can tell who has passion and the intense desire to succeed. I notice that observing many of my pupils, colleagues, athletes and myself
Low floors, high ceilings, wide walls.
This sums up neatly a great learning environment. I’m going to see if I can find a way to provide different paths to learn the same target language in French classes first. Then see if I can give the class more control over what they learn. I already have a low floor. I try to pick language that is ‘lego’ language I.e. like sentence stems so that the endings can be changed and it can have multiple uses as vocab increases. Because there isn’t much time I always have to reign them in (or they can’t remember because they are trying to use too many new words). The ceiling will get higher when they can retain more information. Maybe the different pathways will help with retention.
And this is a big challenge with 30 individuals in a class and usually not a great deal of time to cover asked absorb a great deal of info and skills that don’t necessarily make an easy for with 30 individual 's interests ! But it is worth trying to and one way is to please some one time and others the next, but to let the children see their ownership.
I know! And I found it sad/funny that the museum people thought that the only way to encourage the members to attend was to give them pizza.
“Rather than offering extrinsic rewards, it’s better to draw upon people’s intrinsic motivation–that is, their desire to work on problems and projects that they find interesting and satisfying.”
With my children and with my students, I have seen time and again that they will far exceed any adult expectations, if they are interested in what they are doing. There is little need to motivate someone who is truly interested in a project. You do have to provide structure and support. Sometimes it is a matter of talking things through when they hit a hard spot, or providing necessary space or materials, or suggesting some models to work from.
A big favorite in my classroom are magna tiles. In the beginning, most children create stacks of these. To broaden their horizons, I show them how they might create shapes with a few tiles. We discuss tetrahedrons, pyramids, and cubes. Once they realize the potential, they go in many creative directions.
The same is true of pattern blocks. We use Google Image to see some possibilities and then those who love to work with the blocks will create fantastically complex patterns. Some are immediately interested. After a while others become interested. It is never an assigned task, but an activity of choice.
Another example from my family life occurred during a cross country trip. My four children under the direction of their big sister whiled away the travel creating a play, which when we returned was performed at our house for friends and family. They created costumes, scenery, and a playbill for the performance.
As adult facilitators, we made shopping trips for supplies and made sure the set was safe, but they did all the rest. I would never have considered assigning such a daunting task.
I know for myself that passion is an increasingly critical component of my willingness to engage with any non essential task, but time is also a factor. I could see myself engaging with Scratch and creating something but not right now. I need time to play with it and become more capable. I do look forward to exploring it with my grandchildren.
I remember students’ reactions when I told them that ‘this is really hard.’ They liked hardfun and felt challenged by it. They worked longer at it and felt proud when they stuck with it. They didn’t always solve their problem, but that didn’t discourage them at all.
In the Unhangout session I just attended, we talked about how it might be daunting for teachers to implement “hard fun” passion projects in their classrooms. Hard fun takes time, and such projects often don’t fit into a class period or block. Having students work on projects that relate to their passions may also cause some anxiety because these projects may not address specific standards or curricular measures.
I think an easy idea to incorporate hard fun into a traditional classroom is to allow students to work on a “passion project” when they finish with class work. For example, if a student finishes an independent assignment early, they can have a choice of reading a book or grabbing a Chromebook to put in some time on their Scratch animation. Of course, limiting project time to 10 or 20 minutes at the end of a lesson will squash creative juices, but it’s a start. Having a Genius Hour once or twice a week for students to work on projects of their own would be ideal, but those tiny chunks of time in between could supplement it.
"When people follow their interests, they are more likely to establish deep connections with new ideas and develop new ways of thinking."
From my point of view, this is when significant learning starts and project ideas are generated in all ages, I think it is important that we care about the interests of our students to generate a relationship of class topics with the interests of the students. students and from here, to guide them and develop that learning accompanied by their skills generating a challenge for them and it is here when they apply Hard fun.
“One teenager who showed little interest in reading at school spent hours reading the reference manual for the professional animation software he was using at the Clubhouse”
As a person who enjoys reading, it has often amazed me how many students who are actually good at reading that aren’t interested in it except when necessary. This has reminded me of the importance of valuing all types of reading and letting students have choice in the texts they choose.
I love this! One can almost question whether learning happens at all without reflection, yet how many lessons have time build in for reflection? I am not sure that we give students enough time to reflect on their learning. Actual reflection, not assessment of their learning. I know that when I was in school there are times when I could have benefited from being able to walk away for a moment and try to figure out a problem without the high stakes of the classroom, the curriculum, or the teacher’s expectations.
“Self-determination theory provides a framework for understanding intrinsic motivation (Ryan&Deci, 2000). Self-determination theory is based on the idea that people are, by nature, curious creatures who like to explore, learn, and actively engage in their environment.”
This quote from the paper, “Motivation for Making” as well as the section on self-determination, really struck a chord with me. As an educator, it made me want to take a step back and look at how the education system is organized and delve deeper into are we providing the best framework for students to find ways to explore self-determination. If people by their nature are curious, as the quote states, are teachers provided the support and freedom to tap into this curiosity when designing lessons or projects or are the educational curriculum demands currently in place forcing them to downplay exploration due to restraints such as time and volume?
In a nutshell, are schools a place for the curious?
In reflecting on what is active engagement (autonomy, relatedness, and competence), I think about past projects or activities I’ve designed for my own students and wondered if I considered these factors at all? Or are these secondary considerations that just happen to fit? Where is the connection for student passion in a teacher’s lesson plan? It’s definitely something that I plan to move to the forefront of my thinking when looking at future projects and to continue asking myself.
Lastly, I guess in looking at how open-ended Scratch is and how limiting schools can be (at times), I wonder if Scratch should be used in schools (classroom setting with curricular tie-ins) or if it should be kept as a passion based program for students to explore at their own rate, leisure and with no curricular expectations? I don’t know the answer and I think that there are so many different sides to this argument. I’m interested to find out where my thoughts and pondering will take me as I continue to learn through this medium and experience Scratch. Maybe I’ll have a strong insight at the end of the course.
I like how you said “activity of choice”. It shows me how you can find different ways to introduce autonomy into the classroom while providing a low floor and high ceiling with something as simple as pattern blocks. It sounds like students feel very comfortable to try and take risks in their exploration of patterns because its just them who is determining their action and output.
“Hard Fun” stood out for me this week. It has been floating around in my head for the last couple of days, and I’ve finally figured out why. I work with a highly vulnerable population: high poverty, multi-generational trauma, primarily academically low-achieving students. Makerspace has been a boon for many of these students. In our Maker classes, many of these students have had their first really successful experiences in school. I saw many examples of students working through the “hard fun” stage because they were very engaged in the work.
However, I also saw students who, despite having an interest in the work and despite having major success in the work, would give up at the first sign of difficulty. It made me think that some of my students might be suffering from “frustration fatigue” or “failure fatigue.” They can’t help thinking that this is just another thing that they can’t do, and they will never learn, and why should they bother. It was especially heart breaking with one student who was excelling at our sewing unit, he was a natural. He was at the very last stage, the smallest finishing details and it wasn’t working out. Despite my many attempts to guide him through the problem, and my many attempts to assure him that he would be successful if he continued, and even my assurance that he could stop without sewing this last item on and the project would still be finished, he gave up. Not only gave up, but threw his project away and disengaged from the work we were doing. Ever since that moment, he hasn’t allowed himself to get passionate about a project for fear of “failing” again.
As much as I love “hard fun” there are times when students need to feel more successes in their life, and that may only happen at school. For me that means that sometimes “easy fun” is not such a bad idea . For my school population, some students really need to be built up before they can engage in the “hard fun,” as their life may have only shown them that hard is no fun at all.
YES! Thank you for this post. I also picked the same quote and had similar thoughts and questions although you were so much better at articulating them. If the educational system was able to put self-determination at its core and provide students with a truly authentic education experience, would we see less teacher burn out and student drop out? Could we build a more creative, resilient and respectful society?