Passion, persistence, and resilience. These three attributes lay the foundation for a life-long quest for learning. They are the foundation of success. They allow you to chase “it” down. So why do we find ourselves being engulfed in a tsunami of bad policies, testing, and the elimination of educating the whole child? Why do we find ourselves trying to be like China while China is trying to be more like us? Where is the counter-culture which should be "rock ‘em sock ‘em-ing" the so-called reformers? Why are we not doing what we know to be true and give students what they need?
Passion as defined by Merriam-Webster speaks of a desire for or devotion to an activity. How does anyone believe that testing students K-12 will spark a passion in students? The federal and/or state governments will not create the conditions or the funding necessary to allow educators to use this data in an appropriate fashion. Not that I think the current use of data is useful other than to play the game of school. A well crafted project-based learning unit based upon students interests and needs will better serve our students over the course of their lives. High school entrances should resemble elementary doorways…students running into the building not away from it.
Persistence…never giving up…to fight through…to dig deep…is a quality which drive people to maximize their potential. Persistence is not teaching students to build their stamina to take longer tests. That’s…well…choose a word. Students will persist provided there is a level of engagement, a reason to pursue a task, and an understanding as to why they are doing something. Ever see a kid play Minecraft? I have seen my own children take notes to remember shortcuts, to create a model of a town, and jot down ideas for future adventures. I didn’t need to tell them, “You can do it.” They were “Nike.”
Resilience. Read a great book and attended an excellent workshop on this idea. How Children Succeed by Paul Tough develops the book around the idea that the qualities that matter more than scores have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control. In the Why Try? workshop they discussed a model for classrooms to use to embed the skills needed to build resilience while learning. I am meeting with a representative next week to discuss the potential of this program. A grass-roots uprising which will put a stop to the testing madness would be a great model of resilience for our students.
We need to educate the whole child. We need to include them in the learning……since it is their learning we are talking about. We need to create the conditions where passion, persistence, and resilience can flourish.