So I keep reading all of these articles, blogs and tweets about the importance of engaging kids in school. Sir Ken says that because we bore our students, and because they are distracted in this “age of distraction,” we anaesthetize our kids so they’ll sit still while we teach them boring stuff. And for the most part, I agree with him.
But here are my concerns:
First, I have worked with some incredibly distracted students. But as anyone who has worked with these kids knows, they are often better described as hyper-attentive. They pay attention to anything, and everything. Which is the problem… in a way. If kids struggle with being able to block out less important stimuli, so they can attend to the “boring stuff” their teachers are talking about, they are likely to miss some “kind of important stuff.” And by the time these kids get to grades 5,6,7 the gaps in their learning are incredible. So do these, or some of these kids need medication? I’d never want to say that only taking meds is the solution. But I do think for some, it is part of the solution. And even discussing the option of talking with a pediatrician about medication is at times an extremely difficult conversation to have with parents who already have their minds made up. This is something I definetly need to look into more. I’m currently reading Dr. Gabor Mate’s Scattered Minds. Such an interesing read.
Second, I have asked my upper elementary EAL classes what they would like to study. I spent an entire class brainstorming ideas with them. I asked them tell me what they are interested in, what are their passions, if they could do anything with their time, what would it be? If they could decide what we would spend our time studying, what would they choose?
Them: ummm…… (blink, blink)…. uuuhhhhh…. video games?
Me: really? **sigh** Alright, let’s pretend that I understand the fascination with video games , wait a second, my sister has a wii thingy, I like playing the drums and singing on one of the games she has, but I don’t get the odd button guitar thing.
Them: (enthusiastic) That’s Rock Band! YOU, like Rock Band?!
Me: yeah, I think that’s what it’s called (have I established even a mole hill of common ground here?)
And so from there, with much cajoling and scaffolding from me… we came up with this…