Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Education

It has been a while since I sat down and penned my thoughts about the school year, playing The Sims, student blogging and Education in general.  I should have done this weeks ago but life, as always and for everybody is busy, and this just got pushed back.  So here goes:

1.  The Sims:  My sociology class has been playing The Sims every Friday.  We have had several people be “god” if you will.  They have the mouse in hand and control the final decisions in the game.  Some students are very good at “playing” and others are not.  But no matter what happens during the game..good or bad…it has applications to sociology.  We have had many laughs while playing.  I said the same thing about playing Making History, don’t tell people we are enjoying school and having fun…..it will ruin our image!  During game play I normally sit in a student chair and watch like the rest of the class.  I certainly add things to the discussion that need to be brought out but I try to play a minor role.  I have allowed students to purchase a “go-go dance cage” that provides some fun and entertainment for our Sims.  Don’t worry there is no nudity or anything like that.  However, they do dance in the cage in a provocative manner.  Certainly not bad enough for me to remove the cage from the game.  It has provided a few laughs.  I let students make the decisions about what to buy, where to visit, and who to talk to on their own.  It is their game, their “money”, and their life to do with what they want.  Now to the really important part.  I do think students are making connections between the game and sociology.  I am learning along with them how to incorporate the game but I am seeing good things.  Our classroom discussions on days we are not playing the game have, at times, made good connections with sociology.

2.  Blogging:  I have been very  happy with my students efforts on their blogs.  It is an assignment that takes place during classtime.  Therefore, I get very little opposition to it.  I also think students enjoy it.  Some have posted things on their blogs that are not an assignment from me.  They do read each others blogs and post comments for their classmates.  When I was in school we would call this journaling…..today it is blogging.  Same idea but the blog is “public” and it is shared.  Our building principal has our blogs saved in his “favorites” so he can go and read them any time he wants.  Now I don’t know at this point if he has but it is good to tell my students that the principal has their blog sites saved.  Keeps the level of seriousness a little higher than it would be without it.  One of the biggest decisions I had to make concerning the blog was to allow IM language.  I decided to let students post using it.  And most take advantage of it.  My goal was to have students write freely…….and if IM language helped with that then I was fine with it.  I have had faculty members who have looked at my blog not like the fact that I allow that at school……but it is my class….not theirs.  I do understand their point.  I did struggle with it but I have students write with correct grammar in class at other times.  Anyway, if you are still reading this deep into the post you can check out my students blogs at the Oak Hill Sociology site which is in my blog roll.

3.  Now this part of my post turns to a bit of philosophy but it is a cool and cloudy Thusday here in Indiana so what better time to think deeply about Education.  First, I love this profession.  Kids have so much energy, enthusiasm, and desire to do well.  All it really takes is someone to focus them on how to do well.  Teaching is not about knowledge it is really about management.  Kids really do want to excel.  Of course, as always, some will work harder than others but all kids like success.  Dealing with high school kids is challenging in different ways.  I want them to act like adults and be self motiviated but you know what….they are kids……they act like kids……and they need me to tell them what to do, how to do it, and how to be successful.  I am afraid some educators want high school kids to act like an adult all the time…..and they just don’t.  Nor should they.  Don’t misunderstand my point…..a 16 year old is not 7 anymore.  They will, can and should do more on their own but they are still kids who want acceptance from family, peers, and teachers.  No matter how they act they want to be accepted.  Who doesn’t?  So to my education friends:  we are getting into the time of the year when it is easy to get frustrated with education and kids……don’t fall victim to it.  We chose to teach for the right reasons.  Kids need us, they want our help and it is our job to do it.

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