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Category Archives: Teaching

Trying to Teach a Child vs. Being a Facilitator of Learning

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When I was doing my teaching degree, we learned that ‘gone are the days of blabbing in front of a classroom of students, whose minds are empty vessels‘. The teacher needs to stop spoon-feeding information. We learned that the better roll of a teacher is to step back and let the students take charge of their learning. Facilitating learning, rather than ‘teaching‘, supposedly makes learning more authentic and more meaningful to students. The students are supposed to become more self-motivated and the learning becomes fun and self directed. It sounds awesome, right?

But, I never really ‘got‘ it. Mostly due to the sheer number of students in my classroom, along with having to meet deadlines and deal with behavior, overcrowding, underfunding and disengaged students. I often found myself standing at the front of the classroom, spewing out content. Exactly what they taught us NOT to do. Even now, at my university job, where we teach the value of being a ‘facilitator of learning‘, I find myself ‘teaching‘ way more than ‘facilitating‘. ‘Teaching‘ takes a lot of energy and makes you feel tired. Read the rest of this entry

If I See One More ‘Educational Toy’, I’m Gonna Barf

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I was cleaning through my kid’s bookshelf the other day and found a few packs of flashcard we’ve had for years, taking up precious space in my already overstuffed 2 bedroom apartment. Later, I found a board game, which is designed to teach kids the alphabet. On the boxes of each, it says, “Makes Learning Fun!” I chucked both of them in a bag that is destined to go the charity shop, but then thought twice about it and now decided that we can cut them up to use for craft stuff. We’ve had them for years and never used them once.

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Why This School Teacher Thinks Tests Are Really Stupid

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Please tell me of one single job on this entire planet where you would have to recall facts all by yourself, without talking to anyone, without LOOKING at anyone, without the help of resources and without the help of the internet or technology.

That’s right.

There are no such jobs.

Well, if there are, there’s not many. Yet, we make kids sit silently at their desks so they can ‘recall‘ information. How far from reality is that? Read the rest of this entry

Dear School Kid, Go Outside and Play. Love, Your Teacher

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Dear School Kid,
Today I said a little prayer for you. As I stepped out of the ocean tonight, after a mid-winter surf, feeling all fresh and alive, I wished with all of my might that you might have a chance to feel how I felt in that moment. My fingers were numb from the cold, but I had awareness in my breath and felt connected to my body. I wondered if many of you have ever felt this way before? It’s ok, I know how it is… I know that you’re stuck, sitting in school for 6 hours a day, and most of the time you don’t want to be there. And then after school, you go home and you sit around some more. I know because you told me. You told me that you sit in front of a screen for at least 5 hours on a school night and at least 9 on the weekend. Where does your mind go when you sit in front of that screen? Do you even notice that your whole consciousness dissolves in that glowing rectangular box in front of your face? I know it must be nice to get to do something that you ‘like‘ instead of being stuck sitting at school… I do understand…. Read the rest of this entry

Got Your Knickers in a Twist Over Your Child’s Playtime? Expectations, Learning and Playing.

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Children see no difference between playing and learning, as long as the learning is fun! ‘Fun‘ does not mean things have to be flashy, shiny, loud, expensive or exotic (although they certainly can be). I swear, give a kid a cup and some water and they might play with it for half an hour. This learning while playing thing is not an easy concept for most adults to comprehend because we are so used to making meaning out of an activity. We are used to setting up purpose made activities to encourage a particular outcome. And, often, we feel like every activity must have a purpose, otherwise it’s a waste of time. Adults can get very VERY bent out of shape if our child does not respond well to the task ‘we‘ want them to do. Read the rest of this entry

Schools Could Be Cool If…

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I’ve never felt the urge to bang my head against a concrete wall so badly in my life! I just stepped back into the classroom, after about 18 months away, to do a short contract. I’m working with a lovely group of colleagues and administration. The high school is equipped with more than adequate supplies and resources and is situated on a large block of land with plenty of nature to enjoy. The students, are a nice group of kids and 60% of them don’t give a flying f*ck about school. Read the rest of this entry