I’ll never forget the first time I had a student come up to me and say, “Mrs. Krebs, so-and-so said the ‘S’ word!”
Oh, my, I thought. I was new to second grade at the time. I didn’t know what to do.
I actually don’t remember the rest of that story, but recently I used the ‘S’ word myself in an interview with Center for Digital Education.
I love the story Tanya Roscorla wrote about genius hour, “Google’s 80/20 Principle Applies to Students.” The amazing teachers from Canada, U.S., and Mexico–Gallit Zvi, Hugh McDonald, Juan DeLuca, Julie Jee–and my student, Meghan, were so professional and explained genius hour very well. Then I got to my quote, and I was embarrassed:
“It made all the difference when I stopped giving them stupid assignments that I chose.”
I didn’t like it that I had said “stupid assignments” in the interview. I thought I could have described assignments that I sometimes gave as boring or useless or tortuous or meaningless. But no, I said stupid. I told Tanya in a Twitter message that I wish I wouldn’t have said ‘stupid’ assignments. She didn’t suggest an edit, so I decided it was there for me to own.
And I do. I did give some stupid assignments. According to Dictionary.com, stupid can be synonymous with foolish, senseless, tediously dull, inane, pointless, annoying, irritating, troublesome.
Hmmm…yes, some of my assignments over the years have been annoying and irritating to students because they weren’t appropriate–they were too hard or I didn’t give students enough time to complete them adequately, so they raced through just to say they finished.
Some assignments were tediously dull. Sometimes even pointless. I have asked students to read a chapter and write the answers to questions at the end. I’ve passed out worksheets and word searches. And had students write a lot of spelling words.
And some assignments have been foolish and senseless. I came from the old school where we wrote sentences for punishment, and I am ashamed to say that I had stooped to that a few times in my early years of teaching.
So, now I’m embracing the ‘S’ word. I forever do not want to assign another STUPID assignment.
Real-world problems, yes.
Most definitely, yes to learning!