What’s your biggest concern about teaching and what can we do about it?

I posed this question to my 13-year-old daughter, who is currently in 8th grade and she answered unequivocally “Make it less boring!” I have to agree. School is boring. Kids enter formal education filled with wonder and curiosity and then they are told to sit still and listen. I am concerned we are passing up an important opportunity to capture the attentions and imaginations of generations of individuals who have great potential and instead we are shutting down ideas and making learning feel like a chore.

When my kids are not in school they are drawn to screens—Minecraft to build whole worlds, Instagram to connect, Xbox to play, and Google to find out answers to their endless questions. Children are surrounded by engaging sights and sounds. They are inspired by exploring what others have created. They can find out what they want to know immediately, and they can move as quickly as they are able. 

School is nothing like this. When they go to school they sit in uncomfortable chairs or in rows on the rug. They learn together in groups of 24-34. Sometimes they already know the answer and they are bored waiting for the teacher to explain a concept to a classmate. Sometimes they don’t fully understand what’s going on, but the class marches on. The teachers have the information, and the students must all work their way through to get to the answers together. This is boring. 

Here’s how we can make school more interesting: let’s harness kids’ natural curiosity and encourage them to ask questions. Let’s coach students to ask difficult questions and struggle to figure out the answers. Let’s have students work collaboratively with other students, in small groups, and share their ideas. Let’s stop fearing technology and tap into interesting resources available on the Internet. 

Let’s ask students how to make school less boring and let’s really listen to their answers. My daughter did not hesitate before she responded, “Less lectures and more interactivity!”