It’s About Passion: In Response to @sirkenrobinson
While watching Sir Ken Robinson’s latest Ted Talk I began reflecting upon my own teaching practice. When I was a newer classroom teacher I spent serious time and effort developing and implementing performance tasks. I enjoyed developing activities for students and was proud of my achievements. After all, it’s never easy to use “projects” in Senior High Mathematics and Physics, while maintaining Academic Rigor (something I felt confident I was doing). The activities I developed did a few things
- Tasks had clear directives yet didn’t hand hold students forcing them to choose their own pathway to solutions.
- exemplars were provided, good and bad.
- Rubrics were clearly matched to the directives and written in language my students could understand
- Projects were efficiently implemented, giving me enough time to give lectures, notes and exams in preparation of provincial testing.
As mentioned I was very proud, especially after being invited to share my experiences at provincial conferences. But then (at about 12:50 in the video linked above) Sir Ken Robinson said
It’s about Passion, and what excites our spirit and our energy. If you’re doing the thing that you love to do, that you’re good at, time takes a different course entirely.
Now, as I look towards the future, I realize that my performance tasks were missing the point. I hoped that by providing students time to do these fancy ‘projects’ for their academic courses they would get excited (it never worked that well in the end, students still were concerned with marks and not learning).
But Ken makes it clear. We need to adapt tasks and curriculum to our students, and build opportunities to reach their passion. A performance task isn’t what we need to be providing our students. Making an “advertisement’ about environmental issues (for example) isn’t going to excite science students. What we really need to develop for our students are authentic performance tasks in the truest sense.
Unfortunately my curriculum is provincially mandated, so I can not change it. But the conditions and environment provided for my students; those are created by me. I have complete control over the learning experiences of my students. I need to provide opportunities for students to do meaningful, real life tasks. I need to create the conditions that will foster student growth, and let them flourish. Authentic performance tasks, in my future, will mean open-ended opportunities for students to embed their own passions into their experiences, cultivating their learning and keeping them engaged and interested.
Thank you, Sir Ken Robinson, for helping me stay off ‘track’, and giving us all support to provide an organic education.
Everyday, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly. Sir Ken Robinson