“We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.”by Phyllis Diller
Short-term- Observe a child not in school play for at least 5 minutes. Notice how the child learns before the influence of school. Find a way to incorporate play, fun, and movement into a lesson this week. Ditch the worksheet! Also, reflect on how to integrate play that supports learning.
Long-term- Think about limiting the amount of textbook work and worksheets used in class. Using less paper is environmentally friendly as well as offers the opportunities for students to move around and have fun with the learning. Try integrating fun and play into one lesson a week regularly.
Play is our brain's favorite way of learning.Diane Ackerman
I love to let the students play and explore with technology. Once I can get them past some of the structure they are so used to, we see the creativity and innovation come out. But it doesn't happen immediately and this is sad.
It seems that students get so stuck in what they believe is expected of them, that they are not willing to take risks. I don't mean the "jump off a bridge" risk, rather the "wonder if I can make all the images bounce" risk. Does that make sense?
My students were creating presentation slideshows for a large project. I emphasized over and over again that they should not use a lot of text in the slides, that the slides should be very visual (like motivational posters) and the words come from the speaker. It took soooo long to get them to let go of their bullet lists, definitions, etc. They are programmed to think that the audience needs to "see" their intelligence through text, the more the better. Finally, they let go and the majority of slideshows were fantastic - very visual, little text. However, I did make a concession to lessen the stress. I let the students put their words in a handout or brochure that they could give to the audience. They really seem to need that tangible and viewable proof of their intellect.
That is with middle school students. The younger ones are not stuck in that structure yet and I see them try new things and explore in a different approach. Do we lose the ability to play in our work as we get older? Is it squeezed out of us as we are all set on the same learning track?
I hope to be that teacher, the one that helps break that pattern and allows students to explore, to play, to learn through failure as well as success.