Saturday, August 14, 2010

So Bored

The first week of school and my first grade daughter has already come home complaining of writing for 2 hours on the most boring worksheets, how her hand hurts, and could not believe that they had to write the alphabet letters over and over again, capital and lower case. Her first run in with being completely bored with school and she hasn't turned 7 yet. She doesn't play on the computer, she doesn't do hours of Wii time, she believes in fairies, likes to dress up, and color. She may be a digital native, but right now has experienced little of the digital world. But it is like her brain is wired to know that the traditional style of teaching is not for her generation and she is already making a cry for help. I wonder if this cry has been going on for many years, visual in the number of drop outs, failing grades, teen pregnancy, increase in crime, and so on that our youth are affiliated with.

I ran across a blog talking about Digital Game-Based Learning and as I read I thought how learning should be game based. What do kids like to do? Play games of course! It states that the digital natives "have become disengaged with traditional instruction. They require multiple streams of information, prefer inductive reasoning, want frequent and quick interactions with content, and have exceptional visual literacy skills." So maybe this is why my little 1st grader is pleading to her young, 27 year old teacher, to undergo a transformation in her teaching style. Games are fun. What sites and programs do schools buy to run on their computers? Games that reinforce learning. Games are stimulating, engaging, interactive, colorful, rewarding, etc. We educators need to embrace this game-based learning and apply it to classrooms.

But that is not all. Game-based learning is just one aspect that I feel needs to be integrated in the new classroom. Project-based learning is the second one. Kids are passionate. They fully believe that they can make changes. Everything is out there to help us teachers change the way we teach into one that is based on service projects, global issues, tackling problems that they hear in the news, online, and from the adults talking around them. Kids have not been trained to limit their creativity. They are so inventive, unafraid, and excited to act responsibly. We can use the power of the Internet, the unlimited free resources to connect with others all over the world to learn, grow, appreciate, and help solve each other's problems. How engaged do you think a child would be in his or her learning if what they are doing is helping someone else? How proud would they be of themselves? How much effort do you think they would pour into their work to make it presentable and intelligent?

Sir Ken Robinson in his second Ted Talk discusses that "we don't need reform in education, we need a revolution!" My child is bored and has a long road of schooling ahead of her. What I want for her is what I want for each child. I want them to love it, to love learning, to love reading, researching, experimenting, creating, composing, and I want them to have the basic and advanced skills to do this.

Teaching is the most exciting profession to be in right now. It takes one teacher to start the revolution at his or her town/school. It is addictive once your eyes are open to what is out their for teachers and students. And when you start changing it will become contagious, others will follow your footsteps. For those teachers who don't want to change, for those who want to give my child dittos run front and back, you need to find a different career. We need teachers who LOVE this, who are excited about designing what teaching needs to become. We have the time, because there is not a defined deadline like Y2K. We have the support and professional development with sites like Nings focused on education and global connections, hashtag conversations in twitter, bloggers sharing their learning and growth, and more. Professional development and support that is free and personalized to help each of us how we need it.

Now we need to know who is going to financially support this revolution. Money making businesses, I think it is time for you to step up and support the youth who will be running the show in a few years. Help us find the funds, support what tools the teachers need, and help give all access to each child no matter where he or she is from.

I would like to see how drop out rates change. How the economy in this country changes. How caring for one another in such a violent time changes. How much will change when this revolution occurs.


  1. Melissa I am so sorry that your daughter is experiencing this dreadful version of "learning". Grade one is such a special time to capture our learners and already she is missing out.

    I feel your pain, all three of my children have marched to different drummers and were very vocal about their likes and dislikes in their education. This has been a difficult process for my husband and myself as parents but honestly the one thing my kids have learned is how to self advocate. They definitely know what they want and like but have been turned off school, my goal has been to ensure that they are not turned off learning, which is far more important to me.

    Good luck

  2. Great point, Melissa. I'm already thinking about the incoming 6th grade boys and how much more motivated and engaged they would be with game-centered learning and routine assessing vs. worksheets/workbooks. Just pepper in some healthy competition with those digital games, and I'd bet they're engaged (even with grammar)!

  3. Sorry to hear that. (Attempt 2 at this comment). Engaging, interactive learning can be easier on the teacher too. It encourages more independent study and research. And when all eyes are facing the front, the students are interested and stimulated.


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