A candle’s “naughtiness” detector

I discovered the quote above in a book I read called “Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America’s Schools.”

I found it a refreshingly provocative read in today’s climate where behaviour management in most schools aims to keep kids quiet, compliant and conformist.

The students that I remember with the most fondness across my teaching career are the ones who marched to the beat of their own drum. They knew what they disliked and what they deemed to be a waste of their time, and they weren’t afraid to tell you. They forced you to be innovative and to create lessons that were truly relevant. Lessons that would engage even the most dismissive and discriminating of children. Learning activities that tapped into their natural curiosity and their drive to understand the world around them.

When you give these children the opportunity to follow their passion, the opportunity to lead and to engineer, to create and to debate, they are the ones who thrive.

I have one such child in my class almost every year. One who could easily be labelled as “naughty” and my efforts could go into “correcting” their behaviour. https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/candles-working-with-that-kid/

But that endeavour would not bring about the results that warm my heart: the huge grin on their face when something works… one example- the science experiment works and a light bulb (both literal and metaphorical) lights up.

You may make the mistake of labelling this child as “apathetic”; assuming that nothing you offered would interest them, that their curiosity and appetite for learning had been somehow quashed.

My naughtiness detector had beeped and it was wrong. That kid knew what they wanted to do at school (hands-on, real-life, Scientific inquiry) and was waiting for me to let them do it.

This book got me thinking- what kind of adults do we want these kids to become? Ones who do as they’re told and regurgitate facts and skills that have been mandated as valuable? Or ones that aren’t afraid to question the way things are, to shake things up, to demand a classroom where learning is something they can fall in love with, day after day?


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