Tuesday, December 9, 2008

They're taking off!

I was late to school today because of the icy roads. Not real late, only about 5 minutes, but it was long enough that, when I entered my classroom, the computers along the wall were already occupied by students, one row sitting, the other row standing, nay -- crowding-- around to watch and advise. In other words, had I not shown up for class at all -- they would've been just fine without me. :)

Isn't that a teacher's true objective? To make the kids independent learners? I asked a journal question after their first foray into SL: "Are you a 'learn-as-I-want-to' person or a "you-tell-me-what-to-do-next" type person?" We'd read an article that postulated today's generation wanted structured lessons, that being left to their own devices generally produced frustration. In their journals, nearly every student who answered stated they wanted to be left alone to explore on their own. When they had questions, they'd ask. What I've seen of their behavior in SL supports their words. In other words, they're walking their talk.

Interestingly, when left to their own devices, the girls are still fussing with clothes -- trying on new outfits and modifying them to their own designs -- while the boys are grabbing pre-made houses from their inventories and are building a village of their own. One boy already made his own "house", figuring out without any instruction from me how to twist the pillars and add texture.

Some teachers might find this alarming. After all, when kids go off to learn on their own, the focus of control switches. We're used to being the Be-All and End-All of learning. We decide what's important and we decide what order it should be learned in. I will admit, there is a part of me that's affected by this control issue: what if they do something they shouldn't? How can I justify my position as a teacher if they're doing the majority of the work?

But most of me rejoices. This isn't about me -- it's about the kids and their learning. I already know how to use the world. They don't. My position isn't that of the traditional teacher, it's more of a mentor -- answering questions when they have them, guiding their behavior so they remain civilized, laughing at their antics and disciplining where necessary. It's a very different role and not one teacher schools prepare their students for. It is, however, very rewarding to watch what they come up with when all restraints are taken off!

Cool beans!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice blog you probly said somthing about this but i just came across it lol soooo hahahaha i made the first comment mfisher