Thursday, October 16, 2014

Expected compliance in education...

We are currently in a professional development session talking about behavior and positive interventions for struggling learners. Our presenter, who is funny and relevant, began talking about expected compliance. And, I wondered if we should be focusing on compliance, or should we be sure to that students understand the purpose of what they are learning.

This came up in a Rocks and Sucks session at an edcamp. A teacher said," we need to teach our kids to be compliant. It's what they need to be a good citizen." I, of course, responded professionally (not-so-professional) and calmly (not-calm-at-all) by saying, "We need a compliant society? Who has ever said, "Gosh, I hope my kid grows up to be compliant," We need citizens that question and find what is best. Our country was not founded by compliant people. It wasn't called noncompliance, it was called a revolution!

Needless to say, I stopped being her favorite person.

I love words. I love definitions. Let's look at a couple.

Compliant, adj., 1. ready or disposed to comply: submissive. 2. Conforming to requirements

Complacency, noun, 1. a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and now wanting to try to make them better.

When we teach our kids to be compliant are we then teaching them to be complacent? Compliant is a adjective, complacency is a noun. Compliant describes something I do, and complacency is something I am.

So, what happens when you students aren't compliant? What do you do when a student asks, "Why are we doing this?" Do you immediately reprimand that child for ever questioning the obvious life changing education you are dispensing? Or, do you use their questioning as a rubric for the relevance of what you are teaching? Or, have you started each unit explaining why you are teaching these skills or information and explained how it ties to what we just learned.

I want kids who will ask why we are teaching things. I want kids who will challenge they why. I want students who will expect that their question, "why do I have to learn this?" will be answered by a well-reasoned explanation that allows that student to understand how this learning fits in their overall 'education.'

Compliance is something I'll never teach. I promise I will always use the "because I said so" argument in jest. I promise to follow that comment with an explanation my students can understand and accept. Will you?

Your thoughts are welcomed and encouraged,

Dane Barner

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