Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Stop Preparing Students

Are my students being adequately prepared?

This seems to be one of those questions and conversations that always come up in school. How are you preparing your students? When they are in elementary school we are trying to prepare them for junior high. When they are in junior high we are preparing them for high school. Then in high school we are preparing them for college. All along the way, we are trying to prepare our students for the real world. The funny thing is are we preparing them for something that actually matters or even exists?

We tell our elementary children as they slave away over worksheets they better get use to it because it is preparing them for junior high. When we sit in junior high and tell kids they need to do their homework because it will prepare them for the rigor of high school homework. Are we actually preparing kids for things that matter? Too often this “preparing them for the next level” logic is used to justify poor teaching practice and even worse systematic decision-making.

I have to admit that I am doing a poor job or preparing my students for the rigors of high school. I do not assign homework because I value their family time and the little time they get to actually be children. I do not prepare my students for standardized test through test preparation because I don't value the test beyond a simple measure rather than an end game of learning. I also don’t prepare my students for an existence based completely on fact consumption and recitation.

Funny thing is we often hear in schools from the level above us that our students are not prepared enough. They don’t sit nicely in their desks and do the busy work assigned to them. Rather than do what they’re told, they question and advocate for more autonomy and choice. They become difficult to manage and control because they want to have their voice heard and their individual learning needs addressed.

I am not preparing my students for the real world or some future system they may or may not be a part of. Instead I am helping them navigate the real world they already live in. Maybe we need to do a little less preparing in schools and more learning and living in the precious moments we have together.
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