This week’s post comes you to from Grant Hopper. Grant is an instructional tech coach in West Aurora School District 129 who writes for his very own blog entitled, “Musings from a Teacher.” I am thrilled to share his post with you as I am sure we can all relate and enjoy his nostalgic points of view….
At what age do most students stop feeling that sense of wonder for learning? What causes students to lose that feeling when they learn something new and exciting?
I believe that it is a culmination of many things and not just a singular point in their lives. I believe that a lot of it starts with the immediate gratification we experience now as a culture. If we need something, it’s there, neatly packaged into a 4 x 6 inch computer that we carry around in our pockets at all times or on the computer screen that we stare at for hours at a time, day after day. There is no waiting, no extended process, no excitement, and no boredom that comes before discovery. It dulls our ability to engage with something over a long time and experience that thing in its entirety. Entertainment is fed to us, rather than being created by us. Our creativity weakens and we strive to not be bored, even for a minute.
“But, Grant, you’re a tech guy.”
Yes, I am. But there’s a lot more to life than a glowing screen answering every query that we come up with. Learning is an experience, and one we should embrace every aspect of.
This is not one of those “walked to school uphill in the rain” situations, but I do remember being painfully bored as a kid. I had to create my own fun (and mischief) out of very little. I can also remember when that changed, and it was right around the time we got dial-up internet. Yeah. that’s right. Remember that sound? At that point in time I was able to communicate with friends and family from anywhere in the world, look up anything that interested me, and play video games online with anyone. Somewhere in there my attention span began to diminish, I began to read less, and I began to expect more out of my entertainment and less out of myself. Now, these thoughts were not that of an eight-year-old, but of me looking back nearly 30 years.
But how does that equate to wonder?
As teachers it is our job to teach, and to do so effectively. But how effective are we when we recycle lessons from 10 years ago just because they work? Sure, the content is there, but is the engagement? Does it meet the needs of our students as they adapt to the changing landscape of their reality outside of school? Why don’t we encourage the use of tools and engagement rather than the rote way of learning that we experienced?
A lot of people would probably say laziness, and that may not be entirely untrue. But I think that there’s more to it than that. I actually think that it’s because we, as teachers, lose our wonderment in the profession. How can we inspire wonder in others if we don’t feel it ourselves?
When is the last time that you took a class out of pure interest? When is the last time you read something non-fiction just because you were interested in learning more? What about professional development; do you actively search out the PD on your own, or do you wait to be told what you need development in? Do you get dragged along with the changes or do you get ahead of the curve? Do you act, or are you acted upon?
It’s time to find wonder again. Bring some joy back to the profession by being the instrument of change within your own four walls. Try new things. Make mistakes. Figure it out and get better at it. Wash, rinse, and repeat until the results work. Then get out there and try another new thing. Ask the students what they want, because at the end of the day they are your clients and they are consuming your brand and it’s your responsibility to make sure that your product holds interest and performs the way it should.
Show your interest in the topic by engaging with it in new ways and find wonder and delight in the process of learning, but this time, do it for yourself and the results will follow.
I want to again thank Mr. Grant Hopper for sharing his knowledge with us through his writing. If you would like to be a guest writer for “The Progress Report” please reach out to me (Katie) so we can arrange this. We all have something we can learn or take away from one another so please consider being a guest writer, such as Grant has.
Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning