How Can Robert Palmer Help You Become A Better Educator?

My wife is an awesome math teacher and yes you can claim bias, but after many situations of students approaching her telling her how much they loved her class, math made sense to them that year, etc. I know it is a bias shared by many.

This weekend we were discussing kids and adults no longer need to debate stats and facts in conversation like we used to do. Instead of taking time to argue for 5 minutes whether a fact or situation is actually true, we simply pull out our phones, check Google, and move on with the train of thought and conversation. I am sure you have done this yourself.

Recently, this has happened in my own life. Last night while leaving a restaurant, Amanda and I were discussingRobert Palmer. We could not remember the name of his other song so I pulled out my phone to look up songs besides Simply Irresistible. Instead of waiting until I got home to my cassette single collection I grabbed my phone and remembered instantly it was

(let me tell you that my kids were a great history lesson in 80’s and 90’s pop during this car ride scenario)

We also realized he has been dead for over 10 years which lead to a whole different conversation.

I digress……

During the car ride, Amanda(my wife) was sharing how this same situation happened in her classroom. Students were discussing a particular Jewish tradition and as they were trying to figure out the exact name, reason, etc. the students pulled out their phones to clarify the conversation. As they were searching the conversation continued which only enhanced the discussion and learning. In this moment they were able to take things to the next step and eliminate any incorrect conversation and information.

Both being educators these series of events lead us to the topic of education. Why do so many educators still adhere to the old ways of teaching expecting students to know all these “fact” or “essential elements” of learning when it is not necessary? We both admitted to teaching this way when we started, but over time we have changed and adapted.

No wonder why so many students are disconnected from learning in the classroom when they have a device that cuts to the chase to find that fact in seconds instead of wasting minutes or class periods trying to cram the same information into their brains for one test. At what point do we move to more application and using class time to have them create, analyze, and DO something with these facts that demonstrate they know how to think, utilize information in the correct fashion, and use the higher level of thinking that they are capable of doing?

I know this is nothing new, BUT, if it is not a new idea, then why do we continue to have conversations about these things? The reason is that education has not adapted. We struggle to actually let go of the old ways and move to meet the needs of students today. How many of us have our cell phones on our teacher desks with our apps, instant messages, calendars, ______(insert whatever you use) while still handing out worksheets of matching, fill in the blanks, copying info from texts, reading words from our own slidedecks, etc? Does that not seem ironic to you that you have progressed in your personal life, but have not done so in your professional life?

Yes, I know that some of you are thinking of the following excuses

– we have to prepare them for high school when they will have this type of work

-this is what is coming their way when they get into college

-this work is the work of jobs

-it is just part of life and not all learning can be fun

– I don’t have time to always do bigger projects, units, ……….

Someone at my wife’s school said it best during a meeting she part of the other day. He was addressing this same issue and told the group, “Our job is to worry about the best learning opportunities right now. Our job is not to worry about the future or what others do. We must focus on our classroom, our learning environment, and meeting the needs of students NOW!”

Think on that and in the meantime if you simply rely on your own memory you might think Robert Palmer was a one hit wonder singer. If you use your tools(Google, YouTube, Wikipedia – all tools deemed evil by a lot of schools) you will realize he rocked it for quite a while both solo and with his group Power Station. Hey, I didn’t mean to turn you on with this shift in mindset!

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