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Education Opinion

The “Fine” Effect

By LeaderTalk Contributor — February 10, 2010 1 min read

Any of us with school age children have heard the exchange.
“How was school today?”
“Fine.”
“What did you learn today?”
“Nothing.”
This scene is repeated daily at countless dinner tables and in the seats of minivans everywhere. Our teachers strive each day to motivate, engage, and educate students of all ages. I’ve often wondered what switch flips in the child after they leave our classrooms and fail to share the excitement of the past seven hours. Here are a few observations and suggestions.

1. Remind them. Kids, like us husbands, need reminders. Encourage them to share what they’ve learned by reminding them at the end of the day. One way to make this a part of your routine is to start a classroom blog or website where students can be in charge of documenting the day’s learning. This also gives parents a place to investigate the growth that their child is experiencing in the classroom.

2. Ask them. Find out what your students are thinking about after school. What are they involved in? Often we forget that many of our students are only half way through their day after they board those yellow limos. Sports, the arts, church, and family all fill up those hours before they hit the hay. They often do forget what happened by the time they get a chance to sit down and relax with mom and dad. This may not improve sharing their learning, but it will allow us to know and understand more about our students and the lives they live outside the building.

3. The obvious... The past seven hours weren’t all that exciting. For educators who haven’t quite made the switch, I would encourage you that the best way to impress mom and dad is to impress their child. The 21st century child cannot be educated using worksheets and whiteboards. They must be engaged, challenged, and motivated to discover learning in all areas using 21st century technology. Students must be given the opportunity to apply knowledge in difficult situations to solve exciting problems on a daily basis.

Our schools are in a daily competition for the attention of our students. Our teachers are excellent at what they do, but in many cases this excellence doesn’t make it home. Our goal is not convince parents that their child’s school is great, but that by encouraging their child to communicate the learning, they may be that much more involved and informed about the education of their child.

Gary Kandel

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.