Last weekend we took the beagles to the dog park. Although they are small, and somewhat unassuming, Herbie seems to be able to hold his own when it comes to keeping up with the bigger dogs. Here’s a 15 second snippet of the adventure:
Needless to say, the beagles were thirsty by the end of the trail. Of course the park was equipped with water at dog level, but for some reason, Herbie refused to partake. This little hound had just ran his tail off, howling all the way but would not drink any of the water overflowing the canine-sized bowl available to him.
I made the joke on Facebook, “You can bring a beagle to water but you can’t make him drink.” We use this phrase often as high school teachers (with “horses” obviously), but the sentiment is the same. “I can’t teach a student who isn’t willing to learn.” Now before we get defensive, I want to break this down a little. I’m guilty as any of buying into this mantra at one time or another.
One of the best things to happen in my district is the adoption of a PLC model which requires that we not only reflect on how we teach but on what kids actually learned. Simply bringing the horse (or beagle) to water is not sufficient (nor was it ever), but we now have a district-wide culture that supports students who reject the water the first time. In my beagle example, Herbie was afraid of the giant yellow pump that was pouring water into the bowl. When he got home, he was still thirsty and proceeded to slurp down the entire contents of his regular bowl on the floor in the kitchen. I owe my dog another opportunity to drink water because, well, he’s a dog. High school students, no matter how much we desire the contrary, are not adults. They are children. And sometimes they will reject learning the first time, and the second time (and sometimes repeatedly just to spite us). But as educators, we owe them continuous opportunities for learning.
Well, it’s the first weekend of summer, and I’m coloring spirals and making beagle metaphors on my blog. The next three months promise to be pretty fun.