Wisdom Begins with Wonder

Whose education is it?

We often send kids mixed messages.  Many of these messages actually create barriers to student learning.

“I want you to think for yourself”‘ vs. “Follow my instructions (obey my orders)”

“No talking when I’m talking” vs. “I want you to participate in the discussion”

“You are here to learn” vs. “You got an F because you didn’t turn in any homework and you’re missing these worksheets”

It is really hard to develop a classroom centered around genuine inquiry if it’s not compatible with your discipline style.

Inquiry is messy.  If you exert external control on students’ actions and behaviors, you can’t expect them to think independently.  Creative thinking doesn’t happen in a teacher-dominated classroom.

There are days that the chaos in my room is too much for even me.  There are days when I snap at the students.  I’m human, after all.  When I do, they slide into passive compliance.  The quality and depth of learning suffers for it.

Whose education is it anyway?


  • #   alan stange on 10.09.10 at 1:06 pm     

    I can relate to this. We are caught in the tension between student autonomy and control over an conscripted student body.

  • #   Tina Steele on 10.09.10 at 1:54 pm     

    I, too, can relate. Yet, on the other hand, I have students that, when there is too much chaos, have difficulty concentrating. They need learn in a quiet, introspective, way. We need to respect that also, and provide conducive environments for all learners.

  • #   Mr. Rice on 10.09.10 at 2:10 pm     


    We can’t expect students to be both self-directed learners and mindless rule followers. If we don’t teach students how to be self directed, they won’t be so when given the opportunity.

    I struggle with this balance every single day.

  • #   Mr. Rice on 10.09.10 at 2:18 pm     


    That’s a great point. I try to provide multiple types of environments in my classes. I think that’s important. I also make sure to build in time for reflection.

    Finally, I try to help those students to express their need for quiet periods to their peers. We have had conversations about that very topic in class meetings.

  • #   Alan Stange on 10.09.10 at 3:39 pm     

    The learning process involves some direction and mentoring. Students cannot make the transition from compliance to autonomy without some bumps. I hasten to add that this is an individual issue. Most of my students accept the responsibility readily. This is a VoiceThread I made about the varied learning spaces in my room last year. I have tables now so I need to remake the slide show.


  • #   Mr. Rice on 10.10.10 at 4:01 pm     

    Alan –

    Cool voicethread. What a great idea! I should do something similar with my classroom. It is always fun to see into other people’s classrooms.

    Yes, there are bumps. I just feel that the bumps are worth it for the community that develops.

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