The Passionate Learner: Part Two

“What have you planned for professional development day?” The starting point was this question from Andrea Archer – head of school at Duchess Day School. The outcome was Robert Fried who came to PDS yesterday and worked with the faculty from the two schools.

Am I in a room with Passionate Teachers?

That was how Rob began his presentation yesterday. He defined passionate teachers as

  • People who love the subjects they teach
  • People fascinated by how kids think
  • People who care about issues in the world

His second question was: “What keeps people like us from being the Passionate Teachers we know we can be?” In Rob’s view the obstacles can include:

  • Too much material to ‘cover’
  • Too little ‘real learning’ time
  • A kids vs. grownups attitude that fosters misbehavior

In his experience many teachers report facing student resistance and reluctance to engage in sustained and serious learning. They play the “game of school” and work hard to get by, missing the opportunity to engage in quality work.

Teachers report that they face student resistance and reluctance to engage in serious, sustained learning. Students complain that the work is boring and they ask

“Is this gonna count?”

“Will this be on the test?”

“Will I get extra credit?”

Veteran teachers report that their “tried and true” methods of instruction just don’t seem to work as well as they use to

  • Kids are more impatient, jumpy, easily distracted
  • They want to be entertained
  • They want to be rewarded with gold stars, high grades, or free pizzas

Robert Fried calls this the “game of school” Too many students are prisoners of a Game of School mentality, where learning is something to ‘get over with.’

But – Rob contends – children born today are the same “Passionate Learners” that human beings have always been. . .

Just look at little kids–they still want to be, do, and learn everything!

What has happened to change this picture? What has gone wrong out there?

What is going right – here at PDS and DDS? How can we build on it to ensure we continue to be passionate as teachers and learners?

(Stay tuned)

PDS and DDS teachers at work


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