I have tried to change education. I have tried to re-ignite forgotten curiosity. I have tried to spread joy when I teach, when student learn, when we go through this experience known as school. For the past 5 years this has been my mission. I ask the students. I build community. I make it authentic, meaningful, personalized, passion-based, and many other educational buzzwords. And yet, today, one of my students asked my why no teachers ever made school relevant. Why school is so boring. And my shoulders dropped right along with my spirit, but just for a moment.
As I drove home, I kept coming back to the question the student asked, because it is a relevant one, yet I also realized that it is not that we aren’t trying. Because I am not the only one who spends hours every day trying to change education. I am not the only one who feels like they can do better and strives to always make it more than it has to be. I am not the only one who is trying to make it relevant, trying to make it worth student time, trying to make it meaningful. I see it every single day in the classrooms of my colleagues and on the teachers that share their stories. And yet, students continue to say that it isn’t and that we aren’t. And I am not quite at my wits end on those days, but I am inching closer, comment for comment.
So I ask, at what point can we stop feeling that it is all our fault? At what point can we realize not just as a society, but as human beings, that it is not just teachers that create the school experience, but all of the players; including students. That perhaps it is not just our fault when school is boring, although we seem to think it is. I know I take personal responsibility for when my students are not engaged, but perhaps I need to stop. Is there blame to spread? Or must we continue to carry this burden alone?
Perhaps, my question is irrelevant; who cares about blame when students are disengaged, but carrying all this guilt and responsibility is sometimes exhausting. I know I blame just myself when a lesson goes wrong, because to think it would be anything else seems sacrilegious. Still, though, it cannot just be the fault of the teacher, can it?
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.