For the past 10 years, as a teacher, doctoral student, and professor, I have been researching why high-potential children become unmotivated and disillusioned in school. My interest in this topic stemmed from my own lack of interest in middle and high school as an adolescent. I wanted to write short stories, plays, and poetry. I found it difficult to focus on schooling when I saw no connection to the future I dreamt of for myself. And then it happened…
In tenth grade, my American Literature teacher, Mr. D., returned the first essay I wrote for his class. There was no red ink scribbled carelessly across my thoughtfully-written prose. Rather, there was one comment handwritten in cursive at the very top of my paper: You are a talented writer. In that moment, I felt validation and confidence. In that moment, I saw my future. I could be a writer or an English teacher or both. I could inspire students the way Mr. D. inspired me, and I would. As an English teacher and years later as a professor of gifted education, I would encourage learning over schooling, an important distinction drawn for me by one of my research study participants about a year ago.
When learning is lost, we stop asking “what happens next?” either because we stop caring or because that question is not received well by the adults in our lives. This simple question might be viewed as challenging authority, so as students, we learn to comply, to conform, and to stop philosophizing at an early age.
This blog is about empowering children and ourselves to love learning. It is about uncovering new learning strategies and ways of positively advocating for our children’s learning in and out of school. It is about being brave philosophers, ourselves, and inspiring our children to continue their journeys as brave philosophers.