Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Learning is like...

Do you ever feel as though your students see you as their arch-enemy? Particularly our first-graders, fresh out of the compulsory comprehensive school, often find it hard to shed off the image of the teacher as somebody who is there only to make their lives a misery with unreasonable demands on their freedom and freetime. You are the evil witch who assigns horrible homework every single day - damn me if I am to regularly drink that deadly potion! And there am I, so keen to facilitate, help and support those who have found the reason and motivation TO LEARN. Learning is not supposed to be like force-feeding geese in order to be able to enjoy the mouth-watering foie-gras as a reward, is it?

One day, just before lunch, when all my students could focus on was what would on the canteen menu that day, I decided to make a little exercise to find out something about their attitudes towards learning. In pairs they were to come up with an analogy comparing learning to food. Just look at these samples:

Learning is something negative that most students don't like (even infested with worms, although I must say the worm is rather cute)
NB. The good bits (the raisins) at school are your friends and the lunch break, but lessons are the boring, tasteless grey stuff around them. (I've still got a lot to do with my students' English spelling too, it seems! )

And how about introducing 'lifelong learning' when, really, it should be quick and easy for this generation living on the fast lane!

It is a less known fact that despite Finland's brilliant success in the PISA student achievement assessments, our students rank embarrassingly low when it comes to attitudes towards school and learning. 'No pain, no gain' - maybe that's the old belief still perpetuated here.

I want more students to realize what fun learning can be! What triumph when after many trials and errors you finally succeed in learning something new! It doesn't often come automatically and without effort, but that's just what makes it even more rewarding in the end. But then I'm a product of a different generation - I have grown up not just picking the sweet raisins out of the liver casserole, but enjoying the whole plateful. Life has taught me patience and perseverance, but instant messenging can't wait. How are we teachers to reconcile these two worldviews to make school a fun and pleasant place for us all?

1 comment:

infoviaggiare said...

Hello from Italy.