There has been a lot of discussion lately about student-centered learning, something we are huge fans of. As part of this movement we are looking forward to more discussion around ownership and responsibility around learning. We see responsibility as something that fills us with joy. Yes, it can be time consuming and challenging, but think of all of the positives. It indicates trust, which is incredibly powerful when flowing from a teacher to a student or an adult to a child. It indicates ‘getting something done’. In the concept of student centered it indicates making a choice to ‘own’ or take responsibility for something and seeing it through. It is not necessary or expected that students will be successful with everything they take on - which brings us to risk.
Risk-taking has a lot to do with increasing responsibility. This can include tasks that are given (like doing the dishes) to those that are self selected (like walking the dog because you REALLY want to). We find that starting small and walking through what’s expected can make a big difference. It’s frustrating for everyone if you hand over a task but don’t explain well enough what’s expected or how to do it. It’s also hard to hand a task over to someone who doesn’t really want to do it or if you’re not sure they can do it well enough to meet your standards, but how will they ever get that experience if you always do it for them?
Our kids are experts at everything - at least until they actually try doing stuff. Even when they say impatiently “I know how to do it!” we try to frame it as not assuming they don’t know how to do it, but as explaining the specific way we like to do it or even just ignoring that comment to continue with the explanation. They don’t want to admit that they don’t know how to do something they’ve seen done a gazillion times, but failing at something that seems ridiculously easy can also make them reluctant to take on new challenges. We continue to use younger kids as examples of ideal failure (“me do it!” = eating with a fork, catching a ball, etc.) to put things into perspective for our now older kids - so many things are easy once you’ve had plenty of experience but it’s really unusual to be good at something you’re doing for the first time.
Question of the Week: What did you think you’d be good at that you really weren’t? Did you keep trying?
The beginning of every new school year is a little scary, but being with a large group of people all sharing the same disorientation and trepidation normalizes the fear. As a society, we reference starting a new school year or going to a new school as a shared traumatic experience. There’s a reason for that. As we get older, it’s hard to remember just how much of a risk every new interaction carried, but that overall feeling of constant worry stays with us. Remember as the new school year starts this year that you rarely encounter new situations as often as your kid/s will in just the first few days of school. Try to also remember, though, that everyone needs to go through it on their own - this great article (thanks, Sandy!) about over-parenting is excellent reading for this time of year.
With love and joy,
Jason and Amy
To Do List
1. Tweet a joyful moment to #JLNjoy
2. Post to the JLN Facebook page
3. Send in your favorite videos/books/organizations, tips, and ideas
4. Talk about joyful learning at least once in the next week to someone new
5. Tell a friend about the Joyful Learning Network ;)
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