“It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about.”
–Dr. Immordino-Yang, from Emotions, Learning, and the Brain
“Hey, Sy, can I do my project on…”
“That depends. Is it of genuine interest to you? Do you really care about it?”
“Well, there you go. Go for it. If you don’t care about it, what’s the point? I am not the guard at the gate of your interests. Project on, kiddo. Project on!”
With pursuits and projects wrapping up for the year, this conversation has been part of the daily dialogue in room 219. And while I am thrilled to engage my kids in conversations about their pursuits, I am also disheartened by them when they go as such, for after nearly a year with this bunch, they still don’t trust me. And I fear I have failed. No, really. Despite “interest” being a consistent beacon on the horizon of their experiences in my room this year, they still don’t truly trust that I am giving them the reins, that I am giving them the freedom to learn. They still look to me to dictate the learning in the room, when I really only want to support the learning in the room.
Of course, I probably should neither be surprised nor too quickly claim that I have failed, for I am up against a formidable opponent–the command-and-control approach to education that my kids have been subjected to for years. I have to remind myself that trust doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s hard to unlearn and escape the paths of their pasts. So maybe, if I can get past feeling sorry for myself, I should take heart in the fact that maybe they distrust me less, and that there is hope, that I have, in some small way, succeeded.
Yesterday, I presented the book ends of a re-imagined day next year, and I also spoke to the “middle” and the challenge that it will present in a re-imagined realm. And while I have a long ways to go in regards to transforming and making completely different my kids’ experiences next year, I believe I have discovered a starting point, illuminated by the quote at the top of the page. In fact, quite literally, it will serve as a signpost to guide our journey next year as it will be posted at the front of the room as a reminder of what learning can, of what learning should be.
So, as I look ahead, the middle will most likely manifest itself in the form of project-based learning, where kids are compelled and challenged by their own emotional connections to their own learning pursuits, pursuits that place me in the passenger seat, not the driver’s seat. Of course, this will neither happen easily nor quickly. It will be messy, but maybe we can make messy beautiful by year’s end. Maybe. Or maybe I am just crazy. Why am I doing this again? Oh, too late now, Syrie. You created the mess.
Happy Thursday, all.