This past weekend, I went to one of my favorite carnivals. It's one of those good, old-fashioned places where you can eat french fries, play bingo, and ride a ferris wheel.
My favorite activity at the carnival is the DIME TOSS. This game involves throwing dimes at gently used dishware. If the dime lands on the plate or cup, you get to keep it. Each year, I diligently throw dimes at mugs that say "World's Best Dad" or old sundae dishes. I usually win a few items that are later sold at my annual garage sale.
As I was tossing away dimes this year, a thought crossed my mind. This is what education feels like to lots of students. It's fun at first. However, the excitement quickly dwindles when the realization sets in that the reward is not particularly meaningful or useful.
So, how can we stop our learning objectives from resembling fine china from 1975?
Well, we can involve students in curriculum revision projects. We can ask parents, students, and community members what matters BEFORE we establish standards, lessons, and materials. We can simply say, "What do you want to WIN as you work towards educational goals?"
Please understand that I realize there must be balance when learning targets are established. There are some essential skills and ideas that students must master in particular content areas. However, putting students into the driver's seat can make a big difference in student performance.
What do you think?