An Insidious Step Ladder

We teach kids for the now.

Sure, we must prepare them for what will be coming up in their lives.  I know that knowledge builds upon knowledge and all that.  But, I'm talking about the idea that students must learn for themselves in the now.  Like right now.

John Spencer wrote a short, sobering post a few days ago that riled up an itch in me that I haven't been able to scratch yet.  <buttkissing>If you're not familiar with John's writing, please go check him out.  He's great.  Really.</buttkissing>

His post made me think about how often we throw around the idea of the "real world" in learning.  We want to write real world examples into our lesson plans and have our students solve real world problems.  We want to prepare our students for the real world.  The funny thing is, the classroom is the real world.  We are in it right now, and so are our students.

We can't only teach them things to use in the real world future tense.  We must teach them things to use in the real world present tense.  We are the real world.  This is the real world.

Like I said in my comment on his post, I hate when teachers say "We're doing this because you'll need it next year."  If they need it next year, then shouldn't they learn it next year?  I hope that learning can be for learning's sake here in the moment.

What do our students need to know now?  Right now.  What has their interest?  What has hooks in them?  Let's start with that.

School is not some insidious step ladder that kids climb one rung at a time, hoping to get to the top as quickly as possible for some vast landscape of knowledge and skills that they can finally use.  The real world is not the top of the ladder.  The real world is the ladder.  Our classrooms get to be in every inch of every rung.

School is the real world.  And school is now.

Photo: Dave Dugdale