Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Saturday, June 18, 2005

School Is Boring

by AJ

This comes from an interview with Dennis Littky on Tom Peters blog:

I think that every single kid needs an individual plan with a personalized curriculum that addresses his strengths, weaknesses, and interests. There needs to be less emphasis on a standard content for everyone and more emphasis on using content to engage kids. Schools typically aren’t interested engaging kids. In an EdWeek survey, students were asked to describe school in one word. The number one response was "boring."

The interesting thing is that whenever I'm speaking at a conference and I mention the survey, everyone knows what the one word will be. So it's even more sick to me that not only do the kids think it's boring, but everyone around them knows it's boring. And, as we all know, you don't learn when you're bored. So how do you get kids involved in their own learning? That's what you want. You want them to love learning and to be committed to the community.

When I read that I felt a surge of panic. Is this how students would describe my class? Am I boring them?

Sadly, much of the time I think I am. Uh oh.

So how do I get students involved in their own learning? How could I redesign my classes to enable the students to choose their own content?

Random ideas off the top of my head:

* More free reading. Increase free reading time to 30 minutes out of every 90 minute class. Students bring anything they want to read (in English)... ANYTHING.

* Student led activities. Ask students (or groups of students) to create short social/communicative lessons for the beginning of each class. They design the activity, they lead it.

* Aggressively solicit anonymous comments and suggestions on this blog.

* In class, have each student write an individual learning plan.... they would identify things they were interested in... things they wanted to learn more about. This might include anything from romantic relationships to physics. Up to them.

I could then have them read about these topics (in English) and prepare lessons, portfolios, presentations, field trips, etc.... related to the subject.

Im VERY curious to hear what my students think. How can we individualize your learning? How can we make it easier for you to study things which interest you specifically? And how can we make sure you also learn the basics required to pass the course?

I welcome all suggestions!!!! The crazier the better!