I have been thinking lately about the whole area of students being consumers. Many times when I have tried new ideas in the classroom to try to help them become more independent in their learning, I encounter stressed out students who panic because they are unsure whether the answer is right or that the decision they have made will get them full marks. Is this mindset becoming an epidemic? How can we as teachers let our students become more about the process and less about the outcome? I am often torn between “ticking the box” – making sure they achieve the desired outcome and allowing them to fail and reflect on the process.
One of my favourite films ( which will show my age ) is ” Remember the Titans”, the story about Herman Boon and his epic struggle against prejudice while coaching the TC Williams football team. The team goes on a training run and finish at a field, Coach Boon brings them together as says the following:
“This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.”
At the core of the film is not a winning football team but the changing of a mindset. These players start as consumers, they would train, absorb knowledge and play football ( feed me, feed me, feed me). No questions were asked, no lives changed , just a team playing a game and winning. If you asked these students why they play football? They more than likely have a variety of answers that would be based around enjoyment, winning , fitness etc. that is the outcome.
After this camp and as the movie progresses, the players change from consumers to leaders. They begin to change other people perspectives because of the way they act, speak and to a lesser extent play. They become leaders in their community, breaking life long traditions and mindsets. The internal struggle gave birth to a new person.
Was this the expected outcome? Did Coach Boon know what he was creating?
How do we allow our students to become leaders and not consumers? How do we look at the whole process and value it in a fulfilling way? Love to know your thoughts….