Reflections on Inquiry Based Teaching

Reflections on Inquiry Based Teaching

My biggets observation this week: kids need to be active.

Thus ended my 4th or 5th week, I’m not sure at this point since everything got thrown off for the hurricane.  Previously, I’d taken out a massive stack of books from the library in hopes that might provide some fresh resources for my students to consume.  I can say this was a resounding success.  Among the greatest hits were a book on how to draw fairies, numerous books on ancient civilizations from China to Rome, a book about medieval falconry, and Greek mythology.  But the hands-down winner was Kid Yoga.

This same week, my wife started a new job.  As per her observations, everyone there is fat.  Apparently, really, really fat.  And the company health insurance is about the same as everyone else’s in which it provides wellness rewards and all that useless crap under the auspices of trying to get people to exercise more to make up for sitting down quietly for hours on end.

As I walk through the hall at my school, I peek inside every classroom and I always see the same thing: the teacher standing in front of class at the whiteboard or smart board, while the kids sit down, sit still, and (some of them) quietly listen.  And if you peek inside my classroom you may see kids in the back doing yoga poses or reclining on a pillow on the floor, reading — basically, not at their desks, and I don’t think I lectured one minute all last week.  I’m sure I’ll get written up for that.

But this is where it starts doesn’t it?  Our school has half an hour of PE every day for the same reason why corporate health plans try to encourage wellness: it looks good on paper.  But the truth of the matter is no matter how you slice it, sitting still in a desk for three, six, or eight hours a day is just not natural.  It isn’t healthy.  For children, in many cases, it just isn’t possible.  And yet when we have a child who isn’t able to force their body into this unnatural, unhealthy state, we brand them with behavior disorders, call them ADHD and give them pills to make them sit still and be quiet.

So then my biggest observation this week?  Kids need to be active.  Physically active.  As per my original plan of allowing my students to explore the things they find interesting, I observe that they naturally gravitate towards physical activity.  And if I don’t provide an outlet for them, they start to do crazy things like throw the reading pillows and chase one another around the classroom which is not acceptable because it’s disruptive and dangerous.

This leads to the all-important question: how the expletive can I reconcile the state testing requirements in this kind of environment in a manner that isn’t inherently harmful to the children?

So here’s my idea, and I’ll let you know how it works out.  I have all the benchmarks.  I’m going to print them all out and put them in a folder, and introduce that as a ‘resource.’  Let us see if any of them take a nibble.  I have a few students who often can’t think of anything they want to learn and so find themselves bored.  Perhaps if I steer them towards it…

Michael Patrick Lewis is a teacher, and bestselling author of Edge Of God, and Preferred Rewards.  You can also find him on Twitter @fakeMikeLewis.

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