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Kids don’t mind hard, they mind boring…

February 15, 2010

This phrase was discussed in the 1:1 Learning book.  It was originally shared by Papert (2003).  I think we miss the boat when we say “kids today don’t want to work hard.”  In reality, they don’t want to work hard on something they find boring.  I have read many times that we as teachers tend to teach the way we were taught.  I also believe that most teachers enjoyed school as students.  I don’t know what kind of sadist would go into education as a career if they hated school.  So if our teaching ranks are made up of people who enjoyed and were successful in a school where they were taught in traditional 19th century ways, it makes sense that they would teach the same way.  If all of our students were school-loving future teachers, we would have nothing to worry about (forgetting for a moment the desperate lack of higher order thinking in the 19th century model.)  Engagement would not be an issue.  All of our students would joyfully work their way through stacks of math facts and vocabulary words.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our students are not future teachers.  They do not find worksheets motivating.  In fact, worksheets bore them to tears.  So the challenge becomes how and with what to engage them.

An engaging teacher is a great start.  An engaging teacher can challenge students, can hold their attention, and can motivate them to care about something they may never have considered before.  However, at some point the direction of that engagement must become larger than the teacher themselves.  The best and most engaging teachers engage their students with their curriculum rather than themselves.  The “sage on the stage” can be very entertaining, and can hold students’ attention…but are they truly creating learning?   I enjoy watching Vince Vaughn.  He holds my attention and entertains me very well.  He can even keep me awake past 10pm with his humor…which my wife can tell you is very hard to do!  But I can’t say I have ever learned something from him….

The best teachers engage their students don’t just engage their students with themselves…they engage them with ideas, with concepts, and with thoughts that are bigger than they are.

A classroom in which an engaging teacher continually provides opportunities for students to become actively engaged with ideas that expand their understanding and their world…that is the classroom in which I want my children to learn…and I will gaurantee you…if you give them that kind of classroom…they will work hard…they all will.

Kids don’t mind hard…they mind boring.  Motivated and engaged learners are not bored.

One Comment leave one →
  1. laurie permalink
    February 18, 2010 11:54 am

    It has been my experience that the teachers who complain most about student behavior are those with the most boring classrooms! If you have lessons that engage students in a variety of ways on a variety of levels, “behavior management” becomes a non-issue.

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