Jeff Bliss got our attention when he shared his frustration with his teacher, classmates, and the world about his learning environment.
The now viral video captures a room of students, some with their heads down, some with a facepalm, some staring into space, all silently sitting at their empty desks seemingly disconnected not only from each other, but also from their behind-a-desk-fortress teacher.
That is until Jeff Bliss got up and spoke:
Jeff Bliss: [I’m tired of] hearing this freakin’ lady go off on kids because they don’t get this crap. If you can just get up and teach them instead of handing them a freakin’ packet, yo. There are kids in here who don’t learn like that, they need to learn face-to-face. You’re just getting mad because I’m pointing out the obvious.
According to classmate Colleen Hunt, “Everyone at our school is proud of him for speaking his mind and not being rude about it.” Jeff reignited a national conversation about the state of the educational system, the seemingly indifferent attitude of teachers and an administration that could allow teaching (or lack thereof) like this to go on in the classroom right under their noses. But many of those who work in or with, attend, and/or have children in schools, understand that in many cases it is not the teacher or administrator, but forces outside the school that has led to the development of the packet-driven classroom.
I experienced this first hand. Two years ago I was overseeing a project where my staff was working with schools to support teachers in partnering with students to create passion-driven learning environments. I had a great visit, during what we called an innovation field trip, to one of these schools. What a day it was as students excitedly presented their worthy-of-the-world projects. They clearly owned their learning and demonstrated this in a variety of ways. Some had created videos, some PowerPoint presentations, some wrote articles, and more. Students learned with and from one another, and they found places to share their work beyond the classroom.
As I was leaving the school I happened to run into their teacher and commended her for doing such wonderful work. I was struck by the fact that she didn’t smile when I did. Instead, she thanked me but told me this would likely be her last year in the classroom. What? Why? I didn’t understand. She explained that once they got back from their February break (the following week), the school goes into full test prep mode and she would be required to stand by complicit as she watches the shining light fade from the eyes of her students.
Read more at the link…