Monday, February 13, 2017

Wolk's Joy in School



   "Children typically spend from six to seven hours each day in school for nearly 10 months each year. During the school year, children generally spend more time interacting with their teachers than with their parents. What happens inside schools has a deep and lasting effect on the mind-sets that children develop toward lifelong learning." Wolk, 2008


   Wow, kids really spend so much time in school! I know that teachers try very hard to do the very best that they can to encourage their students. But, according to Wolk (2008), there are at least 11 ways that we can try to make school an even happier place for children. I would like to share with you some thoughts about Wolk's fascinating piece on 11 ways to make your classroom joyful. Most of us plan to do some of these activities each year. Yet, Wolk has some invaluable insights that we might all wish to add to our planning. Wolk's philosophy may stem from the humanistic style of learning.





    Nurture the Human Beings

   Yes, nurture your kids! Kids really want and need to be taken care of.  A humanistic teacher emphasizes these principals to include students:
a. self-directed learning
b. who'd like to learn and understand
c. self-evaluation
d. feelings are very vital and connected to if and how they learn
e. should learn in a setting that is not intimidating
(SUNY Cortland. Edu, n.d.)
   More information about the humanistic style of education can be read in the works of Carl Rogers, John Dewey, the "Father of Education" and others (see links at the end). In this way, children should find gratification in learning. Every teacher should take a considerable interest in what their children like to learn about, and then find or create lessons on the subjects or themes. Not every lesson can be made at once, but we can start out with a small repertoire and then build up our lesson plans.





    Allow an Hour of Exploratory Work

   What is exploratory work? Exploratory work allows children to be inquisitive. Each student works on a project that interests them. The teacher aids each student in developing inquiry-based learning skills. Asking purposeful questions is very much valued here. Students might be researching the work of Tesla, another might be learning about Japanese poetry and creating an original Haiku, and two learners could be studying the history of baseball. Exploratory learning shows students that school can be a place of interesting possibilities.



     Let Design Class Begin!
 
   Your students can participate in many original works. Your kids could use a variety of ways to show their knowledge. Students might use resources such as newspapers, picture books, murals, interviews, models, blueprints, role-plays, mock trials, songs, documentary videos and other activities.





   And, This is Mine...
 
   Hallways and classrooms should be filled with student work. There should be zero worksheets. Photographs or self-portraits of your students can be posted around the room or other places around the school.







      And...The Real Truth about Pipe Dreams and Tinkering About

   Even at school, kids should be permitted to daydream. Your students can be inspired to come up with wild, crazy, and even silly ideas! A creative teacher can stir up a student's imagination. So, there has to be much more freedom within the school schedule for this to happen. A rigorous school agenda is often much too prepared and organized. For this reason, there may be very little exposure to inspired ideas and innovations in the classroom. Thus, teachers should also be able to take chances, invent pedagogy and other methods of teaching (rather than the textbook way).


      Attractive School Spaces

   It is important to have your school, inside and out, to be as inviting as possible. From the campus grounds to the school's interior, learners need welcoming areas to work (and to tinker). For that matter, we teachers need a beautiful environment to work in, as well! A foyer with a mural or plants can make all the difference about how students (and teachers) might feel when they come into the school. Attractive outdoor spaces brings so much joy to kids. Spaces that have gardens, an intriguing playground (not the run of the mill plastic units) and places to walk and play are needed. Ask the kids if they prefer natural surroundings such as grass, vegetation and trees as opposed to plastic, metal and concrete.



    Let's Take It Outside

   More of the school day should be taught outside in nature. Students are then exposed to a little sun, breezy air, blue skies and maybe even a low sound of guitar strings. Need I say,  joy?







      Kinds of Genre

    Learners should be emboldened to read many types of books. Tell your kids about a variety of books that they might, after all, decide to read, such as westerns, mysteries, sports, animals, diaries and even, pop culture.







      Need Much More Time

   Principals should extend the time that students spend in the arts. Once time a week is just simply not enough! There is a great importance to art, theater, music, instruments and sports. First, some kids may show a talent in an area or two and wish to develop this gift even further. Others may just feel happier and healthier than they would be sitting most of the day.




    10. Reduce Quantitative Assessments

   Narrative assessments, portfolios of student's work, presentations and performances should be a valued part of any student report. Your learners can self-assess and talk about their work with you. They might discuss how they have improved in class and what they can work on for next time. Students may present their progress at a teacher-parent conference and... just the progress, of course!

   11. Have More School Days of Fun

   Caring relationships can be supported and developed by classes gathering together to go to sporting events, movies, potlucks, talent shows, school sales, plays, concerts and more.

   Lastly, many teachers would mostly likely agree with this following statement by Wolk.



      "If the experience of "doing school" destroys children's spirit to learn, their sense of wonder, their curiosity about the world, and their willingness to care for the human condition, have we succeeded as educators, no matter how well our students do on standardized tests?"
                       
                                                                                ~Wolk, 2008




Humanistic Style of Learning

John Dewey on Education

John Dewey Experience and Education: A Brief Summary

What Teachers Should Know About Learning Theories

Carl Rogers Theory in Education

Carl Rogers and Humanistic Education

SUNY Cortland. Edu. (n.d.). Principles of  humanistic education. Retrieved from http://web.cortland.edu/andersmd/HUMAN/PRINC.HTML

Wolk, S. (2008, September).The positive classroom. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept08/vol66/num01/Joy-in-School.aspx

Imagery supplied by Thinkstock.com
and Fancy Dog Studios

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