Monday, March 28, 2011

What's Going On?

A piece on the front page of yesterday's Boston Globe talked about high school students who stay up all night wading through off and on sleep waiting for some all-important text message from one of their friends.  While I might not understand, and certainly don't agree with, the value of staying up all night waiting for something that can clearly wait until the next morning, the most striking part of the article was said by a student at the end of the piece.

"a senior at Norton High School, said she sometimes falls asleep during lectures. 'But I can just get the notes from someone later,' she said."

As I thought about that statement, I was drawn back to one of my previous posts about "pseudoteaching" (scroll down to my post from February 24).  While I do agree that all of my notes are available on-line, and I do spend a portion of many classes in direct instruction and lecture, I wonder if my class is really something that can just be learned by getting the notes "later." 

And maybe that is what we need to think about in my class and in our classes.  I/We should be making my/our classes less about getting the information "later" and more about getting connected with the information today.  Today, I gave my students the opportunity to use a series of interactive maps to learn about the early years of Reconstruction.  As I read a couple of blog posts from my students, I found some of them were confused about what the purpose of the assignment was.  Maybe it wasn't particularly clear.  Maybe I didn't explain what I wanted them to do as well as I could have.  Maybe I didn't explain what was going on with the assignment.  But maybe all of that was good for them.  Maybe all of that will lead them to ask questions tomorrow that will engage them in what we are trying to do.  Maybe they will make the decision to stay awake and not wait to get the information "later."


Alex Beal said...

I find this interesting that people would do this. I often fall asleep in classes but from not staying up late waiting for a text but from the sheer amount of pressure that is put on us teens. A whole week I was up to 1 every morning doing homework and studying because I had rehearsal or had to work till 8. Not to say some teenagers do wait for a text all night but I think the ones that are in classes like mine do not do that.

Dan Boyle said...

That is interesting, Alex. I am wondering where that pressure comes from?

Alex Beal said...

Adults and society.

Dan Boyle said...

OK. So how would you solve the problem? I am an adult and I would like to understand the issue. How would you solve the problem?

Alex Beal said...

The pressure of college, grades, money, etc. are laid on top of my shoulders every time I walk through the front door of Triton and it scares the crap out of me. I would say give us the facts but don't shove in our faces that if we don't get straight As that we wont go anywhere. I am not saying that you do this but many adults do whether they realize it or not.