Sunday, April 8, 2012
Nothing Without Joy
In one corner of the ring stands learning that is fun, motivating and engaging.
In the other--commanding cheers from a bloodthirsty throng--hails education that is rigorous, standardized and structured.
Who will win this ongoing battle?
It is a fight teachers wage every day in every lesson.
But I ask myself, "why must the two be separate?" Teaching and learning can be both captivating and challenging.
Why are educators today being asked to choose?
Of course, in reality the struggle is much more subtle than two opponents duking it out in a wrestling match.
Rigor comes along wearing the multi-hued uniform of performance tasks, formative assessments and standardized tests. It continually exerts pressure and tries to edge out joyful classroom investigations.
Luckily for me I had a heaping dose of the Reggio Emilia "Nothing Without Joy" philosophy this past week courtesy of my friend and inspiration Lisa Burman. Lisa was the AUSSIE literacy coach for our school for many, many years. She championed teaching that respected the many languages of children in an organic, unhurried atmosphere.
Over a beer we discussed my concern that I was letting go of some of the joy in order to make way for rubrics, progress charts, compliant bulletin boards and scripted curricula. She, in her brilliance, helped me see a way to navigate the demands of the Common Core Standards and the child-centered work we have been doing at our school for more than a decade.
It turns out I wasn't really veering too far off the path.
Rigor? Of course!
I lift a glass to you dear Lisa!