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Are we moving our students backwards?

My son’s kindergarten captures his learning through photos and stories on Storypark. A new story was published the other day about him publishing his first book. He drew pictures and told the story to the teacher. They then put a cover on the 7 pages and bound it with a binding machine. The teacher didn’t do it. My son did it. He learnt about the binding machine, how it worked and then he bound his story, guided by the teacher.

A few weeks ago he worked with his teacher to make a hat for kindy. I don’t know all the details, but he chose the fabric and helped the teacher operate the sewing machine to stitch it together.

He was given some responsibility in making his hat. He was given responsibility for putting his story book together. I also know that he gets to use a hammer and nails to build things. He gets to use scissors to cut things up. He’s 4.

When I was teaching in a face to face high school a few years ago, I was told that I need to store the exercise books of the Year 9 and 10 students. These are mostly 13-14 year olds. Has something happened between kindergarten and high school that has suddenly made these children less responsible? Or perhaps they are not actually less responsible? Could it just be a perception by some people? Do our students simply live up to the expectations we have of them? If we think they cannot be responsible for their own equipment, then perhaps they will stop being responsible.

I wonder if it’s the system? In kindergarten they are given some freedom, choice and guidance. In school (not all schools/classrooms) they are taught. I don’t think this is happening as much any more (but I may be wrong) but I believe there was a stage where before you got to do any of the interesting stuff, you had to do things like copy the instructions off the board. Why? Did it really matter if the instructions were written in your neatest handwriting in your exercise book? Did it affect what they were supposed to be learning? Why don’t we let our students learn by doing without having the mundane stuff get in the way?

We need to give responsibility back to our students. We need to encourage them to think, to question, to use their brain! We need to encourage them to be creative and if they come up with ideas, try to help them to bring those ideas to life!

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