Curveballs, Part Two

In my most recent post, I talked about a few major curveballs in my life. Of course, there have been more than I discussed and there will certainly be more to come. Part of the beauty of curveballs is that we don’t know when they’re coming, so we just have to react as soon as we seen them. There’s really no way to prepare.

Or is there?

Though we cannot prepare for the changes life throws at us, we can prepare — mentally, emotionally, and physically — for change. This isn’t a case of “expecting the unexpected.” This just means that we need to be able to have the things we think we rely on and take for granted taken away from us or altered in some way, and still be able to come out the other side. And we can do this without demeaning the wonderful things we have in our lives. We can love our families with our whole hearts, yet still carry on — eventually — if someone dies. We can put all of our creative passion into our jobs, yet still move on if that job is no longer there. We can love running, yet still manage to get by if we lose our legs.

These are grand examples, obviously, but things happen, and we need to find ways to keep moving forward.

So.

What are we doing these days to help our students with this? What are we doing to prepare them for the unforseen changes they’re going to encounter?

Are we providing them with a structured daily routine they crave because of its security, or are we shaking things up every now and then so they will learn to react to such changes?

Are we providing them all the steps necessary to solve a problem, and then giving them a problem, or are we asking them to find a solution on their own with the tools they have?

Are we teaching them the things that the CCSS says are important to them, or are we teaching them the things that we think are important to them, or are we helping them with the things they know are important to them?

We cannot, and must not, just produce a bunch of students who can snooze through the same thing day in and day out, fill out some bubble sheets for questions we’ve already provided the answers for, and pretend we’re helping out the future of the world. The public has invested in education because it is better to have an educated populace than an uneducated one. But what’s better yet is to have a generation which is able to handle the curveballs thrown at them. Because we can’t see what’s coming. Neither can they. So how can we possibly prepare them for it?

We can do it by training them to be comfortable with change.

So, what curveballs have you given your students lately? I’ll start off. Instead of giving my 7th graders a traditional test on percents, markup/discount, and interest, I gave them a problem in which they are opening a school store and had to use those skills to come up with a solution. They were prepared from a math perspective, but it was a different sort of assessment for them. They struggled. Some of them struggled mightily. But I believe they are better off for having a curveball thrown at them.

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