I haven’t run across too many people who can say that the famous Calvin and Hobbes cartoon did touch them in some way. To say the least, it was an iconic cartoon that provided insightful musings about everyday life. I found this article in my Twitter feed, Sixteen Things Calvin and Hobbes Said Better Than Anyone Else. Here are the two that really got me thinking along the lines of my last couple of post regarding remembering the basics.
On the unspoken truth behind the education system
Calvin: As you can see, I have memorized this utterly useless piece of information long enough to pass a test question. I now intend to forget it forever. You’ve taught me nothing except how to cynically manipulate the system. Congratulations.
On looking yourself in the mirror
Hobbes: So the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met?
The first quote is the standard criticism we have all heard a million times. Are we teaching students to jump through hoops to get a degree, good grade, or the like? Are we teaching to the test or are we teaching to produce autonomous, critical thinking, lifelong learners? Really? Be honest. Everyday we teach, can we honestly identify the authentic skill present that will stick with students? Will students even remember the content or skill the next day or even better yet at the point in life that they will need it? Will they need it in life?
Add the second quote and a whole new perspective came to life for me. Many times we just forget the goal, make excuses why we can’t, and simply give up. We claim that the “this” and the “that” just aren’t appropriate for our current situation. We tried this before and it didn’t work then so why are we trying it again with a different name? Today’s students just don’t do “x” well so we just have to lower the expectations. I’ve attempted everything and nothing has worked. Have you heard these statements before?
So what do we do to not walk out of our classrooms everyday in despair? How do we justify not moving forward and keeping the status quo? How do we allow ourselves to not rise to the occasion and fight the good fight? Simple. We just lower what we expect from ourselves. We justify our inabilities. I am not suggesting that we are lying to ourselves. What I am suggesting is that we are not being totally honest. Are we taking stock of what we need to be accomplishing along with keeping the expectations real and genuine?
I have asked a lot of questions. This is the purpose. Think about them. Ask yourself if you are keeping the focus appropriate, pushing the envelop everyday, and making a durable difference in our students’ lives. Challenge yourself to NOT lower expectations to make yourself feel good. Challenge yourself to constantly as why you are teaching the skill or content. Ask yourself what evidence you have to believe that students will remember beyond the test. Don’t just hope…know!