Inspired today by Jeanne Muzi
Year after year you continue to roll out the same assignment.
“Students have always done this.”
“It’s a tradition.”
“The students love it!”
Usually, the reason you keep retreading the same ground that you have for thirteen straight years has less to do with students and more for your own need of nostalgia.
Sometimes, the assignment isn’t even a part of the curriculum
Yet, in some classroom, in a short while, every student will be forced to write a story about Tom Turkey and why he shouldn’t be eaten for Thanksgiving.
Some students will enjoy it, and produce a decent piece of writing. Some will not. The final products will all be very similar, and hung on a cutesy bulletin board.
Chances are there might be one student who takes a huge risk and writes about something different or takes the assignment in a direction that it wasn’t supposed to go. Maybe she produces a movie about Tom Turkey instead. She, unfortunately will be corrected and receive a poor grade for failing to complete the assignment.
Let me repeat that. A student who takes a huge risk, demonstrates creativity and originality, and creates something meaningful to her will be judged poorly for all of those decisions.
And this is the exact reason why it’s time to finally abandon nostalgia practices.
Just because it’s a tradition or something we’ve always done doesn’t mean that it continues to be worthwhile.
Maybe it’s time for a change.
Let students create on their own.
Let them demonstrate their individual talents.
Let your scholars embrace the process, and care less about a final product.
Enough is finally enough.
No more seasonal writing prompts.
No more students being graded down and judged harshly for being original.
No more cookie cutter arts and crafts.
Let’s abandon nostalgia practices.
Let’s give students the opportunity to engage in meaningful work instead.
And when your students become artists, chefs, engineers, musicians, accountants, mathematicians, thespians, writers, historians, and anything else they want to be, it will all be worth it!