The Purpose of Education

#edtech #edchat  -- If you were to ask 1000 teachers what they thought the purpose of education was, no doubt you would get a lot of different answers. The reality is that there is not one singular purpose to education. Instead, there are many, and the purpose I want to focus on with my tech projects is to give students opportunities to find their passions.

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If you really think about it, isn’t this what all teachers want?

If I am a math teacher, don’t I want to inspire my students in such a way that there will be a few students that find out that math is the subject they are truly passionate about? Students that had no idea that they could be a math whiz, but now with my help they have found a spark that will hopefully last a lifetime. This is how great teachers make great scientists, writers, poets, etc.

We want to give our students tastes of different subjects and materials and hope that they find the one that “fits” them.

Last year I had a student named Johnathon who signed up to be in my morning news club. As standard procedure, on the application I asked why he wanted to be part of the morning news team? His answer was that he wanted to get over his “shyness problem.”

As things developed, this shy 5th grade student ended up expanding my mind as to what I thought young students were capable of. In fact, he is the very reason for me writing this book.

Johnathon, had been trained on how to use our little elementary school’s news studio and was really getting the hang of being a newscaster. His shyness seemed to be disappearing with every chance he got to be behind the mic.

Then one Wednesday it happened. It was a cold December morning in 2009 and Johnathan had turned up at his usual time to do the morning news. His 4th grade sound tech had cued up all the sound effects, checked the mics and was now ready for the show to start at precisely 8:05 AM. Meanwhile, Johnathon had prepared the normal script, complete with the lunch recess weather forecast, the hot lunch menu, birthdays, etc.

At 8:05 AM the sound tech counted down, 5... 4... and then silently turned up the mics as her finger signaled for him to start.

What came out of this 5th graders mouth was amazing. He was off script and totally ad libbing his show, sure he was still covering the news, but he was doing it his way. As I watched his sound tech scramble to keep up, a smile grew across my face as I realized he got it, he had found something that he was really good at, and he knew it.

The show ended, he hung up his headphones, and walked out of the studio to the new shining star of our elementary school. All I could do was smile as he walked off to his first class.

It was then when I found out that the most rewarding part of teaching is when you see a child find a passion for something that they never knew they had. This is what great tech projects can do for our students. This is why I do unbelievable tech projects with my students and this is the formula that I use...

Fun + A Push + A Great Artifact + A Little Spark = A Great Tech Project

I will explain more about this formula next week.

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