Last week I displayed a picture of George Washington on the smartboard. "Who is this?" I asked with trepidation, knowing that questions without choices were not always my class' strength.
"George Washington!" one of my kiddos announced without missing a beat, even though my other friends were silent. Although he'd missed the lesson from the day before and he hadn't been exposed to GW at all this year, he apparently remembered our George Washington unit from last year.
I felt good for about two minutes. Wow, I must have rocked that unit last year, I thought. This is what you want as a teacher- to teach something and then have them remember it the next year.
Then I started to think about how after two years I'm still working on getting this friend to be able to identify the letters in his name. Two years, 5 letters- it's not going so well.
Why waste all that time on our good friend George Washington? Were there other skills I could have been teaching instead of a drill & kill recognition of a famous American? Is knowing who GW is going to help my friend at all later in life? Am I filling his head with useless knowledge when I should be focusing in on more essential skills?
Grant it, the useless knowledge I'm referring to is the exact information I am suppose to be teaching. I'm not making things up, I'm teaching the curriculum. Technically I am doing my job. But is what I'm doing the most beneficial for the students?