Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Monday, October 13, 2008

School Rant

We had a school direction workshop this afternoon with the staff and several community members. The instrumental music teacher (who teaches one day per week, one child at a time, and has only ever taught one-on-one music, she's not a trained teacher) kept going on about how the children aren't having enough fun in class, how every single lesson should be fun, and how there should be an educational games corner in the classroom so that the kids are motivated to get their work done. This is a load of complete crap. I teach about 25 lessons a week, to 19 kids of three age groups and about 10 ability levels. A classroom teacher CAN NOT make every single one of those lessons an all-singing all-dancing fun-filled extravaganza. It is physically impossible. There are not enough hours in the day to do that kind of preparation. And fun does. not. equal. learning. You can engage the kids, get them interested, make the set-up of the lesson enticing and intriguing, but sooner or later the kids have to sit down and do some work. And that will not be fun. It might be enjoyable, it might be pleasant, it might be satisfying, but fun? No, and it's not meant to be. Learning is hard work. It can be nice, but it's rarely fun. And furthermore, this is a senior primary school classroom. When my year sevens get to high school next year, no one is going to give a fig about whether they are having "fun". They will expect them to sit down, shut up and do their work. That doesn't mean I have to be be strict and cranky with them, but it's my duty as their teacher to make sure that they have the skills to actually sit there and get stuff done without expecting constant entertainment.

As for the reward corner - this might help one third of my students, the middling group who are at the 'what do I get out of this from others?' stage. They might hurry up a bit. It will do nothing for my strong third, who have developed an understanding of intrinsic rewards and will gladly finish fast for a bit of praise and their own inner satisfaction. And the remaining third, my weakies, will immediately decide that they will never be quick or accurate enough to get to the reward corner and will simply give up and do even less work than they do already. Not to mention that the whole thrust of what we were taught at uni is to move kids away from external rewards and towards that inner satisfaction. A play corner would be a massive backwards step, and teach them an unrealistic expectation about the world. Your job will not have a play corner.

And also, this music teacher kept saying that she wasn't sure the kids were happy at school. Maybe that's what they tell her. I was too polite to mention that half of her kids dread their music lessons and get more and more tense as their appointed time approaches. She's a nice enough lady and probably teaches quite well, but the kids find her lessons stressful. I guess they're not having enough fun...


Haha! I actually had someone (smart kid coming from a private high school and an elite college) refuse to do a dull excel project because it wasn't fun. I think my actual words were that I am not his kindergarden teacher so I don't care how fun (or not) it is. Oops!
Yawn, the music teacher is such a stereotypical flake. Fun is key to life, but sometimes you just have to enjoy the anticipation of it and do the not so fun stuff on the way there...


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