Monte Syrie is an English educator in Cheney, Washington, who operates and writes Project 180 at Let’s Change Education. Monte is recognized for his overwhelming focus on the most important thing in education: relationships - constantly devoting himself to empathy, tolerance, and a welcoming #myroom.
Learning requires an “I can attitude.” We want our kids to believe in themselves, so their attitudes take them to higher altitudes. And so on. We certainly seem to offer a lot of talk in ed about the power of can. But I wonder if our walk matches our talk.
We try. We try all of our days to put our fingers on learning. We try to find and keep what works. We try to avoid and lose what doesn’t. And, through it all, we keep chasing the best ways to foster learning in our classrooms. We give our kids opportunities to show, to demonstrate that they are growing, that they are learning.
Whether we think it or say it, when we warn kids with the “real world,” it is an affront to their existence, to their humanity, to their reality. The kids, the humans above attend Anywhere High School in Everywhere, World. And whether it was yesterday, today, or tomorrow their world feels real enough. Ask them. They’ll tell you.
I said as much in my written feedback at the top of her paper, giving her the benefit of the doubt and taking some responsibility that I may have explained it inadequately. Even so, our conference began yesterday with her uttering, “I did bad.”
I believe in hard work. Had to. We didn’t go to church on Sunday. We worked on Sunday. Work was our worship. When school was out, work was in. Every weekend, every break, every summer, there was work to be done. So, we worked. And while I didn’t always appreciate the lessons from work when I was younger, I proudly acknowledge the impact they had on shaping the person I am today. Hard work matters.
Maybe instead of clinging to the “some-win-and-some-lose” approach to education, we should embrace the “all-need” approach. The former pushes competition, forcing us to rank and sort kids, enabling us to wash our hands, for the results fit the model — it’s the natural order of things.