The picture on the left is of three friends who have been close since pee-wee football. We are in Texas. It’s the “thing” here. The boy on the left is my son. During the school year, I’ve asked these boys time and again about their enjoyment of school. Each time, they divulge in extended laughter followed by rolls on the floor. They are, after all, teenage boys.
We’ve talked often about their use of technology in their “21st century school”. Those conversations tend to be swift as they never use technology. They have smartboards, which are awesome for the movies that they watch. (sarcasm)
Their cell phones are collected and sold back for the bargain price of $15 if caught. Every now and then, an “innovative” teacher will have them use google to search for information. They are consumers and more importantly, they are BORED.
In meetings, he and his friends are given a name…sub group (African American). Questions are raised like…[What needs to be done so that this “sub-group” doesn’t make us academically unacceptable.] I know this because I used to cringe in those meetings.
Today, I asked my son and his friends what would excite them about school. This is what they said…
Make school interesting. Give us stuff to do and to make. Let us have fun. Let us use technology and let us talk.
In case anyone is wondering how to engage this “subgroup”, here is what you need to do…
- Quit thinking of them in terms of a subgroup! How do you engage ALL KIDS?
- Build relationships. Understand all kids for who they are and go to that to help envelope them into their learning. This includes their culture.
- Involve the community. I grew up with the village that raised me. That hasn’t changed much.
- Ask them questions but also allow their questions in response. Kids need to feel valued and that they have a voice too.
- Change your perception of technology if it is antiquated. Kids are using tech all day, even when you think that they are not. They are….Trust me
- Give all kids options to learn…not just how, but WHAT!
- Let them create…Creating unlocks “wonder”. Encourage their WONDER.
- Empower them to publish. Share what they are creating with an audience, including their own peers.
- Treat them as human beings. This is important and probably the most important of all.
- Challenge them to be critical thinkers. Stop living beneath the comforts of worksheets and textbooks. Challenge our kids to do more because they are meant to be more.
Excite them to learn and they will.
PS: If your school is struggling with the creation part, I know people and we can help.