This video clip from the Simpsons always makes me laugh. However, I also find it kind of sad because we have all occasionally given tasks to kids that promote a similar attitude to that of the test superviser guy in this clip. Kids are capable of so much, but sometimes we are in such a hurry to just “get to the bottom line” that we underestimate what our students are really capable of.
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As good teachers, I know we want our kids to undertake rich, deep tasks that are nuanced and subtle; to let them engage in content in meaningful ways that enable them to construct their own connections and learning… and yet in our hurry to get through the syllabus we sometimes want them to “just say slavery”, so we can get on to the next thing. (That’s right HSC, I’m lookin’ at you!)
I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of giving mindless worksheets to kids where they just skim through the textbook to find the right words to fill in the missing blanks so they can say it’s done. We mistakenly assume they learnt something because the “work was completed”. If we do this, what we really do is disempower our students’ learning and reinforce the idea that just getting to some arbitrary end-point is what really matters in life.
This clip really made me think about the need to slow down what we do in the classroom, eliminate the rote learning, and let my students engage with the content they encounter. They need to make their own connections with key content and internalise it in a deeper way. It’s such a shame when we race through to the final “answer”, because so much learning can take place along the journey.
Just say Slavery by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.