Students Called “Bullshit!”

15 Sep

Something happened in class today. Something happened which hasn’t happened in a very long time. Something happened which I both encourage and fear. Something happened which I believe can only happen in a very few classrooms. Something happened that I am proud to say happened in my classroom. Today my students called bullshit on me.
I made a vow to myself that I would complete all of the assignments which I assigned. I wanted to make sure that I was also doing the projects that my students were doing. I did this a few years ago and it really worked out well for me. It also brought me closer to my students. I didn’t do it last year and the opposite happened. This year I’ve done most of the daily assignments but I’m committed to doing the big projects especially. The first product is entrepreneurship project. I have a couple of small businesses in the wings which I’ve been working on. So an entrepreneurship project ought to work well for me. Right?
Well in a gesture of slight cowardice, I decided not to work on any of the projects directly. That way I could continue to procrastinate and not risk actually showing my passions to the sunlight. I decided to work on one small aspect of one of my projects. When I presented to my students today, while asking them to also make practice presentations before exhibition tomorrow night,I asked them if that sounded like something good, or sounded like something that wasn’t sure what it was. One kid looked at me and said “the second one.” Another one said, “kind of both.”
Here I had been patting myself on the back for doing a project along with my students. They see it both as a challenge and as encouragement. Those aren’t necessarily opposites anyway. And while I was asking them for complete vulnerability I was being completely guarded. I wasn’t putting something I was truly passionate about on the table, while asking them to do just that. They called me out. I kind of knew that was going to happen.
So tonight, the night before it’s due, I’m going to have to start from scratch. The good thing is that in our process we get credit for process and progress as much as product. The other good thing is that since were using the Stanford University design school model, testing your product and then going back to starting at the Empathy mode, is perfectly fine, and encouraged. So not only am I not shaming myself, I’m modeling how failure is always an option especially in design and entrepreneurship. It’s days like this that I am extremely grateful for my students. I never want to be that asshole in front of the class who knows it all and can do no wrong. What a boring job that would be. I teach because it affords me the greatest opportunity to learn and satisfy my natural curiosities, and express my abilities. If I don’t listen to when I’m not doing something right, I throw all of that out. There is nothing common for standardized about the way I care to teach.


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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in The Ampersand School


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