Both of my boys are adults now, but I can still remember the conversation we had one day when my oldest had come home from college. Here is the basic gist of that conversation:
“Dad, I had a class that I really loved this semester. I loved the professor. I loved the topic. I loved going to class. It was amazing. I learned so much that I could probably teach the class.“
“But, I just wanted to let you know that I am probably going to get a ‘B’.”
“What? I thought you loved this course?”
“I did. But, the professor didn’t know how to assess.” (Now you must realize that both of my boys grew up in a house of educators!)
“What do you mean?”
“All of his tests were lists. Every test was just list after list and I couldn’t keep all of the lists straight. You know that I am not great at memorizing.”
“Well, did you learn anything?”
“Yes! I could teach the course.”
“Well, then take your ‘B’ and don’t worry about it. It was what you learned that was important.”
Sure enough, he got a ‘B’ and went on with life. But, my other son was listening to the conversation.
“Oh! I wish I had more classes like that!” (evil dad stare)
“What? What do you mean you wish you had more classes like that?”
“Dad, you know that I am great at memorizing.” And he is.
“When I have a class like that, all I have to do is memorize the information, take the test, get my ‘A’ and walk away. I don’t have to understand the information, I don’t have to use the information, and I don’t have to explain the information. I just have to memorize, regurgitate, and take my ‘A’.”
In all of the years that I have been in education, that conversation really brought into focus for me the need to create learner-centered environments that are engaging, authentic, and allow students to use, demonstrate, and reflect on what they learn.
Dr. Billie McConnell and Drew McConnell of Connected Consulting are experienced Vision & Learning Facilitators and Atomic Learning collaborative partners. Looking to make a shift in your district? Check out this free workbook that helps pinpoint areas for consideration and further development.