Yes. They just love the standard lessons. No surprises, please. Don’t get too creative. Don’t expect us to get too creative. The different, the irregular, changes are perceived as threats, scary stuff. It makes us uncomfortable. We love comfortable.
These are my weakest students. They are in 7th and 8th grades. They experienced one type of teaching through elementary school, which obviously didn’t work that well. But still, they would rather keep using the same methods, than be moved out of their familiar zone into experiencing a different type of teaching or learning.
Being a hyper-creative person, it is difficult for me to put aside all the new ideas and methods. But this year I have decided that it would be wiser to start in their comfort zone, so that trust is established before we embark on new ways.
So, we have been working with the textbooks. The students feel composed when they are under the impression that filling the workbooks page by page is what will get them forward and that the road ahead is clear and familiar.
I feel rather sad. There is so much more I want to do. I don’t want them just to get going. I don’t believe that filling up empty spaces in a workbook is learning, and it is certainly not teaching. I want them to feel curious to know more, happy to discover new possibilities and mostly I want them to open up to other ways of learning. Who knows, it might work better. I am getting impatient.
Little by little I seep in some new tastes. Something to soften their attitude towards learning and towards themselves. For instance, I explained that the main factor in their grades is the “test-tube” which is not a test at all. It’s a container where they collect points for every action they do that helps them learn. “Anyone can get 100. If you don’t have enough points, you can always come up with more items, tasks, and missions to add up to 100.
Still not where I want to be, but a first step in the right direction. They asked me at amazement several times, “Really? Anyone can get 100?”
“Sure”, I said, “Why not?”