Is this the way students feel when they are learning? When they make mistakes do adults and peers laugh at them so they just give up trying? Have they been told by people who are charge that they can’t do something so they don’t even try? I have seen this with my students and have fought on a daily basis to change their mindset. They believe this so much that even their parents have fallen into this false belief.
Then are our students so exhausted from daily tasks that it takes too much effort to even try to learn something new? Sometimes I look at all the stuff my students had to do and was overwhelmed by the busy work they were sometimes given. My students had trouble reading and writing so many times I helped them with their homework for other classes. A lot of the homework entailed just spitting back something on paper that was in the textbook but they had no idea what any of it meant. There wasn’t any application of knowledge so I’m not sure they learned anything other than writing better.
This makes me wonder if there is a way to help students step back and learn how to enjoy learning. They need time and space to do so. With all the pressure teachers are under to meet standards and then pass standardized testing that I think we have taken the joy of learning away from our students. I remember a third grade teacher telling me that if I wanted to learn anything, all I had to do was find the right book and I would succeed. We may not be able to teach our students everything but we can teach them that anything is possible if they want to learn it and then show them the tools to find out how to meet their objective.
As the school year begins in South Carolina, I have talked to a friend who is stressing out about all that is required of her right now even though only one week of classes has passed. She doesn’t have time to worry about what the students need because she has all the regular paperwork to turn in plus benchmarks to develop for future testing plus new paperwork that is required. She is having to spend personal time to prepare for class and get her room in shape. She doesn’t have time to enjoy the art of teaching or help students enjoy the art of learning. I hope we don’t get consumed by the fears and regulations of the rule makers to forget about the needs of our students. Helping them succeed in school and life should be a priority for everyone.