Don't Be Cruel to a Mind That's True - Comfortable Learning in the Classroom

When's the last time you willingly walked into an argument, happy to join the "conversation".

The answer, for most, is never - unless you're Mike Tyson.

No one likes to feel stupid and no one likes to ask the stupid questions. Be "that guy".

These are the memories we remember most as a child. The time you were the last one to realize what the math teacher meant when she said, "don't mix apples with oranges." The time you were picked last in gym class. Left out. The time you asked a stupid question in class and time slowed like molasses. That's the last time for asking questions, you say to yourself. Strike three for creative thinking. Sir Ken Robinson was right.

Take a look at online discussion forums and it's the same thing. Thousands of trolls ready to pounce on you, make you feel stupid and pedantic.

Let it go.

Move on.

Great teachers know that step one requires building a class where students feel safe and comfortable to learn. The safe class room. Not an easy thing to do with 30 teenagers ready to pop a pimple at any moment (Tweet this).

At the Global Education Forum NYC, I saw the makings of a safe global-learning environment. Penpals, Padpals, and  student-centered global discussions that matter. Students able to talk meaningful ideas that will change the world.

umpa lumpas.jpg

Soul pancake is great. Fun, clever, full of challenging conversation. But, it's too easy to be cruel.  Too easy to leave a nasty denigrating comment behind the avatar of an Oompa-Lumpa. It's a beautiful platform to discuss meaningful questions, yet a terrible place to build students up to learn when they already enter your classroom feeling so low.

Self- efficacy is at an all time ebb. It's far easier to stare at a TV all day or text meaninglessly all day. Far easier to watch Judge Judy than learn about law. Students don't want to feel dumb because feeling dumb adds another element of instability to a life that may already be so unstable.