The Purpose of School - Kristi Harjo Top
Wondering how to bring SEL into your classroom?

The Purpose of School


I have a confession, I am a science teacher that does not care if my students learn science.  I began my teaching career over 16 years ago, before they had standards.  I had set topics that I had to teach but more freedom on how to teach them.  My students learned through inquiry and a project based learning type of style.  They loved learning, creating, and problem solving.  Then came standards and science turned into a lot of facts.  It was all about memorizing small details.  The focus turned to power points with checks for understandings of the basic facts during the lesson and worksheets to practice the facts.  The tests became multiple choice questions of basic facts.  I really struggled with what was happening. Especially seeing the love of learning disappearing from my students as the years went on.  To me learning small individual facts is not what science is all about.  Science is about investigations, problem solving, analyzing, looking at evidence, communication, and discovery.

So if its not to learn science facts, what is the purpose of school?  To me the purpose of school is to fail.  It is to make mistakes and learn from them.  The purpose of school is to learn skills of problem solving, persevering, learning to work with others, and learning how the choices we make have multiple outcomes.  When my students leave my classroom it will not matter to me if they know atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons.  What matters to me is that they learn how to think for themselves. That they learn to make better choices and fix their mistakes. It matters to me that they understand the importance of organization and using resources to find information.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I love science and I love teaching science.  My students do learn that atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons.  However, they learn science because my focus is on teaching them skills.  I teach them how to research and organize their information.  I teach them how to gather evidence, how to communicate and discuss ideas with each other. How to make claims and support them with the evidence they have discovered.  I use their science topics to teach these skills.  So will my students learn science?  Absolutely!  However, it is not what I am focused on because to me that is not the purpose of school. 

What do you believe the purpose of school is?

Comments

  1. I think that it is extremely important for students to learn from their mistakes. They are not always going to understand something the first time, and that is the learning process. You made some really great points about students and how they should learn how to gather evidence, do research, make and support claims, etc. This is all a huge process for students and they are going to learn through their mistakes. I really enjoyed your post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Teachers are saying...

I've been looking for resources to flip my classroom. This will save me a lot of time planning.

- Tracy C.

Animal and Plant Cells Flipped Lesson
Kristi Harjo
2020-09-29T21:21:06+00:00
I've been looking for resources to flip my classroom. This will save me a lot of time planning. - Tracy C. Animal and Plant Cells Flipped Lesson

These are so fantastic! What a great way to teach and differentiate for students! Thank you, everything is so well put together.

- Chelsea B.

Newton’s First Law Flipped Lesson
Kristi Harjo
2020-09-29T21:29:27+00:00
These are so fantastic! What a great way to teach and differentiate for students! Thank you, everything is so well put together. - Chelsea B. Newton’s First Law Flipped Lesson

This is absolutely one of my favorite resources I have purchased through TPT and I spend more than $400 a year! It has so many interesting aspects. My students really enjoyed learning with these labs.

- Terah R.

Ionic and Covalent Compounds Science Stations
Kristi Harjo
2020-09-29T21:30:45+00:00
This is absolutely one of my favorite resources I have purchased through TPT and I spend more than $400 a year! It has so many interesting aspects. My students really enjoyed learning with these labs. - Terah R. Ionic and Covalent Compounds Science Stations

I bought this lesson with all of my students in mind, but gave special consideration to my students that have IEPs and seem to struggle with staying on task. We're currently in the process of working through the prokaryote and eukaryote cells and I'm finding this to be so convenient for my students. It's something that they'll be able to easily refer back to also. Thank you for creating such a colorful, fun and useful resource!

- Lisa M.

Cell Differences Digital Notebook
Kristi Harjo
2020-09-29T21:31:59+00:00
I bought this lesson with all of my students in mind, but gave special consideration to my students that have IEPs and seem to struggle with staying on task. We're currently in the process of working through the prokaryote and eukaryote cells and I'm finding this to be so convenient for my students. It's something that they'll be able to easily refer back to also. Thank you for creating such a colorful, fun and useful resource! - Lisa M. Cell Differences Digital Notebook
0
0
Kristi Harjo