Kids DO Want to Learn!
Jack* was born in the US and moved to Argentina when he was 5 years old. He is now in 4th grade and I had the honor of tutoring him for a couple of months. Although he has lived here for many years, he never felt Argentina was his home. He is an exceptional boy who is crazy about video games, computers and movies. I was amazed the first time I met him. He’s such a sweet and funny boy! I really enjoyed each and all of our lessons together.
Jack was having trouble at school. He was labeled as an unmotivated boy who energetically refused to work and his performance on his English lessons wasn’t exactly the best. I found this particularly odd, because he speaks English so fluently. What’s more, his teacher told his mother that his writing was really incoherent and messy. She even suggested he should undergo psychological treatment.
On our first meeting, Jack did really well. When he focused on tasks he even had little need for explanations! As soon as our class was over, Jack dashed off to play with his PS3 and I had a chat with his mom. She was really sad about the reports from school so we discussed possible tactics to engage him. Meanwhile, in the background, I could hear him playing and interacting with someone in the US! Boy was he motivated to play! It was at that exact moment that I decided not to do the regular school work with him anymore. Instead, I’d use online sites, videos, Skype and, of course, I’d start a blog for him. I thought blogging would be perfect for practicing and improving his writing skills.
Our second lesson was amazing. He so was engaged in learning! It seemed like there was a totally different boy sitting next to me. I could tell how he savored each and every minute of our class. When our lesson finished, he looked at me and said: “Can you stay a bit longer?” I couldn’t believe my ears! He even asked me if we could have two lessons instead of one the following week!
He was thrilled when I told him he’d be blogging and sharing his stories with the world! Needless to say, when the lesson came, he wanted to blog right away! Jack worked really hard and with great enthusiasm on each of his posts. He loved reading the comments he received. It was wonderful to see how all those comments kept inspiring him to share more and more about himself.
Last week, Jack moved back to the US. As we were saying goodbye, he hugged me and said: “Can I keep blogging, Greta?” I was speechless. He even promised “his blogging buddies” he would get back to them as soon as his family settled in their new home.
Blogging and tech tools have really helped Jack connect with learning. His attitude has changed and so has his performance at school. Jack loves to learn. Jack loves learning English. Jack is a boy who lives in 2011 and his reality is the internet, video gaming, web 2.0 tools and iPods. He’s also an expert iPad user and has even taught me some great applications!
Kids keep proving to me that they DO want to learn when they find learning meaningful. We should encourage our students to pursue their passions; this will empower kids to learn. Unless we do something about it, our classrooms will be packed with demotivated children. We can make a difference: it’s up to us educators to foster the love for learning in our students to really help them flourish.
* not his real name.