Saturday, June 20, 2015

The pits.



My partner in gifted crime, Sarah, and I have four rules to keep us sane in Gifted Land:

1.  Don't try to make sense of education.
2.  Don't fall of the ledge into the pit of despair.
3.  There's a mattress on fire under a bridge in Boston.
4.  Sarah has a baby. (okay, now she's 2 1/2, but still....)

Honestly, the four rules have served us well -- there is at least one that applies to every single situation.  Rules one and two help us frequently, and Rule 3 was adopted after the statement was made to us as a legitimate excuse for our inability to access our online GIEP writing program several years ago.  Rule 4, well, it just helps us make sure that Sarah doesn't overbook herself after school and on the weekends. 

Certainly there are days when we are all teetering on the ledge, staring at an abyss, and it helps to know that not only is the rule in place, but there's a partner in crime to verbalize it when one of us is too frustrated to realize we're on the ledge.

Climb out of the learning pit.

Today I discovered a brilliantly-written piece at Edweek by Peter DeWitt.  Certainly, we've all felt a sense of accomplishment while assembling something challenging -- DeWitt cites the wonders of IKEA products as an example.  The idea of fostering a sense of pride in such an accomplishment with students, while allowing them to struggle as part of the process seems unkind to some, yet engages others at a level beyond the norm.

James Nottingham, the father of the Learning Pit, talks in great detail about the idea of Cognitive Conflict -- the idea of multiple ideas that conflict with each other, causing kids (or anyone with a brain!) to explore the concepts in greater depth, all the while trying to make greater sense out of the conflict that exists.

From conflict comes resolution, and resolution that instills pride in the resolver is the greatest thrill of all.

I just may rename my classroom THE PIT.  (Although I will have to reassure Sarah that it is a LEARNING PIT, and not a pit of Despair!)