When yes means know

Overheard: “I have Mrs. Allan. We don’t learn anything in that class.”

Well, if you learned you didn’t learn anything, wasn’t that learning?

Too many students measure learning using the following formula: student + worksheet = work of consequence. Sad. How did that happen?

Recently, one of my students, writhing in her desk, alternately moaning and whining said, “Can’t you teach like everyone else? Can’t we just memorize this stuff? You expect us to be able to use it too.”

Me: “No. No. Yes.”

During my brief twenty years of educating high school students, I’ve learned that the most significant learning can be purely accidental. The learning that catches you by surprise years later when an event triggers some memory, for example,  and my “you have to know what to do when you don’t know what to do” suddenly makes sense.

Maybe in the yawning midst of the lesson on uses of semi-colons, there’s the lesson in perseverance or patience or possibilities.

I’d like to pat my own back for that particular “accidental” learning, butI can’t.  Actually, my role is to provide the opportunity for the serendipity, not to provide the moment it happens.


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