Thought 1: Intrigued by the video we watched in GEDI, I asked my wife when I got home on Wednesday night if she knew about “parkour.” Getting a negative reply, I explained the sport based on my brief exposure to it, and she replied “Isn’t that what little boys do naturally?” That got me thinking. Yes my son does naturally seem to climb over and bounce off from the obstacles (furniture, walls, etc.) in front of him. He often prefers to take the long and difficult route to get somewhere. He doesn’t see these things as roadblocks but a playground. So maybe that’s part of how he’s made, how his body and mind were designed to work.
Thought 2: Also related to family, my three-year-old daughter has been in one of those “Why…?” phases lately. In the moment, it can be extremely frustrating. However, the teacher in me has to sit back and say to myself, “This curiousity and wonder at the world is great!” Sure, sometimes it is just stalling because she doesn’t want to eat her dinner or go to bed. But much of the time, she is really trying to learn and understand things. How do we keep that sense of awe and wonder in our children?
Thought 3: The state of primary and secondary education was lamented by many on Wednesday night. Aside from changes to the system itself, how do we as teachers deal effectively with the students produced by our current education morass.
Bright students often come to college beat up and no longer able to tackle the educational obstacles put before them. They no longer want anything to do with parkour anymore, at least when it comes to education. Instead they have been trained to opt for the easiest path around the educational hurdles before them, or at least to only jump over the lowest hurdle, if they have a choice. The joy of learning has been beat out of them by the system. Our job is to show them that not only is what they are learning significant, but facing that challenge can also be enjoyable and thrilling. The parkour metaphor not only works for us as teachers facing a challenging university system in which we must work. It also provides a good context in which to think of how to engage less than enthused students.
We also need to remember that much of the “How do I learn?” question comes by asking “Why…?” just like my three-year-old. Maybe we need to insert that question more often in our teaching and lectures to remind our students the importance of that little word. Better yet, when we’re facing a Why question in our research, bring it to the class and ask it there. It may not lead to any new insights. But then again, who knows?