Ted Sizer came to mind as I watched our eighth-graders present their mock Congressional hearings yesterday and today on the Constitution, political philosophers, how our government works, and much more:
When the students forget the explicit contents of today’s lesson – and we know that they will – what is left? Anything? What happens after they forget the difference between atomic number and atomic mass? What is left after they forget the difference between the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? After they forget the rhyme and scheme and meter of a Shakespearean Sonnet or between sin, cos and tan? ~Ted Sizer
But what happens when they “own” that learning? They will not quickly forget when they research and present like they did today. I was so impressed with how prepared they were to answer our questions as we pushed them to think deeper, defend fully, and articulate clearly.
What “is left” after work like this is the meaningful learning. These experiences will stay with them as they navigate their own civic responsibilities with an understanding of what and who came before them. A thoughtful history teacher provided opportunities for real life learning that will carry them into the future.