While on break for Christmas I have had time to surf the blogosphere and read a bunch of stuff out there about education. If you read my blog from time to time you probably know that when given some time to ponder….I ponder. So here are some of my thoughts about recent musings.
1. My sociology class is a one semester course. My students passed my class and will be moving on to something else 2nd semester. As part of their final exam I had them write an essay about some of the activities that we had through the semester. No IM language in this writing for anyone who read student blogs. Here are some quotes from essays:
This class has been an altar for a lot of the students whether they realize it or not. It’s been a way to get stuff off our chests and come to a peace with problems in the world. After every discussion we had I found myself leaving in peace and a better understanding of my beliefs. I believe I’ve learned a lot from this class and I’ll remember things from this class through out life.
We have done many things in Sociology class. I have really enjoyed being in here. I’ve enjoyed our discussions, learning all the different viewpoints. I enjoyed playing The Sims, struggling at first to keep our people happy, then getting the cheat code and building on to our house. But the one thing I really enjoyed was our life projects. I have never really sat down and thought about what will be happening in the various stages of my life.
And one more to show not all students are coming from the same perspective: Bottom line, I just did the work so I could graduate and that’s it. But I’d love for it to start over again.
What does all of this lead to? Well, why do I do this stuff anyway? It is all about the relationship. The most important part of education is the relationship. I am not downplaying the subject knowledge that we ask kids to learn but let’s be honest. The relationship is more important. How many of you are using chemistry right now? How about world history? But how many of you can name a teacher that had an influence on you because of the relationship you had with them? I can. Mr. Denari, freshman bio, he cared. Mrs. Dodds, chemistry, she cared. Mr. Zell, government and econ, he cared. Coach Zimney, football and junior high social studies, he cared. He told us he loved us all the time. We thought it was funny as a group but individually I think we all knew he really did.
2. Computer games like Making History and The Sims: I have received more press coverage about using computer games than I could have ever imagined. I still wonder why this is such a big deal but…….There will probably be more to come (stay tuned for that). But why do I use them? Because I care about the atmosphere of my classroom. I could lecture all day. I could be a project based teacher and do 1000 projects during the year. But what I really want to do is make my classroom friendly for students. Technology then is a must. So are projects, so are lectures. But technology is a part of life now and it really should hold an everyday place in education. It should not be an option. Tech friendly teachers are student friendly teachers. And I think student friendly teachers get more out of their students. I think that because there are less hurdles to overcome with the kid. No personality issues, no kids saying Mr. McDivitt is a jerk or he doesn’t care. Kids are dealing with enough stuff. In sociology I had kids who were parents, been incarcerated, been in counseling for various reasons. If we expect them to learn we should remove as many hurdles as we can for them and the relationship can help with that.
3. I mentioned student travel in a previous post. Our next trip to Europe is planned for spring break of 2008 (next school year). We are going to Italy and Austria and every time I have been involved in a trip I get excited. First, I do love to travel so the student trips help feed that desire. But second, and more importantly, I get to be involved with a group of students who will broaden their horizons beyond central Indiana and expereience the world. There is nothing wrong with Central Indiana. Born, raised, work, live and raising my kids right here. But to better understand the world one must expereience it. I continue to experience as much as I can. I have traveled to: Canada, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belize, Jamaica, Switzerland, Lichtenstien and aroudn 38 states of The United States. Anyway, I love to watch kids go into an eatery and try to order food. They get it done and I will help if need be but watching kids step out and try is fun. The language barrier is one that pushes kids to have a better understanding of other people and places. Including the growing Hispanic population of the USA. What is the best part of the travel…..the relationship I get to have with the students that are in a totally different environment. That is an experience I love.
That is if for now. Do stay tuned for posts about playing Making History. I had to change my curriculum around for a few reasons and we are playing the game a little earlier this year. So I should be posting about that by mid January. Hope all of your holidays were wonderful!