December 21, 2018

"...if you want to learn something, I can't stop you. If you don't...I cannot teach you."

As I was catching up on some podcasts after finals week, the episode of Freakonomics called "Where Does Creativity Come From? (And Why Do Schools Kill It Off)?" which had the following line from legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis: "...if you want to learn something, I can't stop you. If you don't want to learn it, I cannot teach you."  Whoa!  That is so true. I can't count the number of times that I have students in my class who are there because they have to fulfill a science credit (for various reasons) and have very little interest in the physics I am trying to discuss.  I think that I have tried for years to foster a classroom environment where learning can happen, but I sometimes forget that students have to WANT to learn what I am offering to teach.

Following my continuing philosophy to not hide anything in terms of pedagogy, learning, or teaching from my students, I plan to hang some printouts of these images I made and have them in the classroom as a reminder that the choice to engage in learning is solely up to the learner.

After hearing this episode, I thought for sure that some other teacher had discovered this great podcast episode and the Marsalis line before I did.  I did a quick search and the only post I could find was this one on Medium from Shaun Mosley.  I like how he tied the process of developing creativity and learning to the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. It is something I have certainly thought a lot about as I have planned my classes and made the shift to Standards-Based Assessment and Reporting.

To all the teachers out there: if you have a chance to listen to the podcast episode, I'd love to know what you think about it and what you are doing in your class to engage learners in creativity. Let me know!

Photo source/credit: Eric Delmar public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
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