Friday, February 03, 2017

Teaching Tip #106

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #106
How do you combat boredom in your classes?

This TED x Talk by Will Richardson is one of my favorites.  I thought of it because of the grad class took last summer called Diving into Digital: engaging the digital generation was all about engaging students who have grown up in a world of constant entertainment and engagement.
The authors of the text note that our students today have a "just-in-time" attitude to learning.  Because of their high-speed digital environment, they know they can learn almost anything when they actually need it.
My generation, though, didn't have that luxury.  My teachers had a "Just-in-case" approach to learning.  In other words, I had to learn things - just in case I actually ever needed to use it.
This talk begins with a great example.  Will's daughter - who is taking piano lessons from an instructor - is bored one day and uses her dad's laptop and internet connection to research how to play Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" on the piano.  She finds a Youtube video showing her how it is done and finds a copy of the sheet music on line.
She surprises her father with the song, and he is blown away.  She took initiative to learn a complicated song, which also showed grit, determination, and satisfaction in how proud she was in her own learning and drive.  This illustrates her "Just-in-time" attitude.  She was bored and decided to challenge herself.  She didn't need to know how to play the song until she really wanted to, and, as a result, she learned it on her own in a way that was highly engaging and effective for her.
A week later when her instructor came by for their lesson, Will proudly declared to her instructor that she could play a Journey song.  Her instructor, clearly adopting the "just-in-case" learning mindset said, "She can't do that.  She's not ready for that!"  In the instructor's mind, there were a number of progressions her students had to go through - just in case - they ever really wanted to learn how to play popular music.
This issue is at the heart of why so many students are bored and disengaged in school.

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