No, it’s more than an epic song that Mr. Dodd STILL rocks out too, but a pretty good theme for the year. I can’t remember where I read it (sad, being unable to cite a major influence on philosophy), but an educator once explained teaching in two ways: Jungle and Zoo animals. Zoo animals, while wonderful, are only taught to live a controlled environment. Held in captive long enough, these animals lose their ability to think and act for survival. You know, creatively, critically, and collaboratively. Everything they have is provided to them. All that’s asked of them is to sit in their exhibit, cause no trouble, and look goooood!
I don’t like Zoo animals. I mean, come on – would you rather go to the zoo, or on a safari?! I prefer Jungle animals. They may not be quiet, safe, or easy to catch, but it’s nature in it’s perfect splendor! Animals are unpredictable, move and act based on what helps them survive, and are far more exciting to observe.
How does this relate to teaching and/or learning? I like kids who think like Jungle animals. Students that are aggressively looking to learn, challenge themselves, and do something different. As a teacher, I despise the image of a “controlled” classroom. Sure, quiet, busy students look the part, but are they learning? When I talk to most students, I don’t think that’s always the case. There’s a place for that, but when students are doing, speaking, acting, building, drawing, and arguing, it’s a far more productive and engaged room, to me. We’re loud. We’re messy. But even better, we’re DOING something. I don’t want the kids to be like Zoo animals, just sitting there, looking nice, and taking what I give them. I want them rolling up their sleeves and doing something they care about, not just something that’s going to keep them out of trouble or make ME happy.
Roger Bannister (first man to run a sub 4-minute mile) has a great, famous quote that relates to this well:
“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.”
No time to be lazy, no time to vacillate, no time to make excuses. Time to learn, work hard, and have a little fun doing it! ;)
Below, you’ll find a class guide to the jungle. Here’s a non-scribd version as well. Can’t WAIT to see the kids in here this week!