Sunday, November 30, 2008

Participation = Fear?

Last week was a very interesting week. It's the first week of the new semester, and I thought is a good day to talk about what it means to...participate.

My class of seventh graders brainstormed a bit, discussed, and I was surprised to find that, the most obvious answer was, "it's what we get graded on." And also, "it's raising your hand in class." That brings up a very good concept: are we telling our kids that participating in life, in culture, in society, only happens at the expense of a grade or a payment?

"It's what we get graded on."

When it comes to the global picture, when kids grow up, will they participate in their government or a social cause because it's the right thing to do, or will the shun it because of the old adage "what's in it for me?"

The idea of participation as a grade is being pushed out of fear- "raise your hand, or else, you'll fail this class." Should not participation be nourished and encouraged? If you say that kids get a grade for participating, what are we really saying to them? How are we setting them up for the future with this current model of participation?

It's an interesting question. My idea of participation comes from a 34 year old technology teacher, who has much experience to draw upon. For a 12 year old, whose only experience is getting a participation grade, I wonder how that will shape them in life.


image from Pop Rocker on Flickr:

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