The classroom as a swimming pool: Should candles coax or shove?

270D14E6-DB37-4E11-AE78-7D22C458A692.jpegIf the classroom were a swimming pool and you were the swimming instructor, you would have two choices. You could wade out into the water and coax the children in, or you could just get behind them and shove. 

If you go with coaxing, they enter when they’re ready. They can either run up and do a bomb dive- water splashing every which way- or they can slide in one inch at a time.

If you shove, chances are they’ll come up coughing and spluttering, glaring at you all the while. And then they’ll get out, cursing, vowing that they’ll never go near a pool with you again.

Research says that children learn best when they are drawn rather than pushed into learning. 

So what does this mean in practice? It means that you, as the teacher, provide the opportunity and create the desire. Whether it be by putting interesting materials on a display table, by showing a snippet of a video clip, or by going on an excursion. Then you step back and you watch.

But now back to the pool analogy. Once the students are contentedly treading water in the pool, and even starting to swim, you introduce the waves. 

You challenge their thinking. You give them chances to overcome adversity, to deal with conflict. You give them some work you know they’ll get wrong the first time around.

In other words, you teach them to surf!

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