The problem with exam season is that I stop learning. I spend a whole month (twice a year, because we’re semestered) going over everything my students have learned, holding their hands, and resisting the urge to put all my Grade 12s into Snuglis. When I get home from work, I have to do much the same with my two children, which is even more frustrating because I know there are other options for their education but this is what they’ve chosen so I have to keep my mouth shut.
I’m not all that good at keeping my mouth shut.
Now, I get to learn again. It’s taking me a while to get back into my brain (as opposed to the brains of my students and their twisted teachers). I took some books out of the library – one is Jonathan Kozol’s Letters to a Young Teacher (I haven’t started it yet), and the other is Ian Wright’s Is That Right; Critical Thinking and the Social World of the Young Learner. Wright’s book is a little simplistic for my current state of mind, but would be very good for those just beginning the exploration of critical thinking.
Critical thinking is, like Attachment Parenting, something I’ve been doing without having a name for it. In school, I was constantly accused of daydreaming – with good cause. However, some of those daydreams were done with a pleasant, dreamy expression on my face (those were actual daydreams, so you can yell at me if you see me looking at all happy), and others were done with the deeply furrowed brow of concentration. The furrowed brow came when I was connecting the previous year’s history class with the current year’s religion class, and with the previous day’s music class. When one eyebrow went up, I was starting to make connections. When both eyebrows went up, it was a facial Eureka! When they both went down again, it was because my eureka had alerted an otherwise distracted teacher, and I was in trouble for daydreaming again….
This morning I watched Clifford Stoll’s TEDtalk; critical thinking at its best. I think I learn very well from people like Mr. Stoll.