In theatre school I was asked to only answer one question before putting something on stage…What’s the point? It is the question I ask myself not only when devising theatre, but in all aspects of my life including education.
It is a simple question that ultimately is the beginning of the reflective process, even before the actual process is complete. I have applied this to lessons, professional development, and the introduction of tech and maker ED into the classroom.
This question is the gate keeper between strong ideas grounded in fact and thought, and the spur of the moment, hop-on the bandwagon new thing. It has served me well in the classroom, but as mentioned before it’s roots for me began with theatre.
I am still running theatre camp and our weekly show is tomorrow. Today was the final edits of scenes where the tech and the props and costumes are added in. Sometimes the idea that sparked everything on Monday transforms itself far away from the initial interest (which is OK). My role is to ensure that the message being presented by the kids is articulated to an audience who is there for the product. The meaning can get lost along the way, and therefore the question needs to be re-asked. What’s the point of this? If it doesn’t make sense or the kids do not understand why they are doing what they are doing, chances are the it will fall flat to an audience (even when the audience is filled with family and friends).
In the classroom, sometimes a great lesson idea can be sparked from an initial provocation. I may think I am going in one direction, and by the time I am ready to introduce something to the class it may have veered off the path. By asking the question I ensure that I am able to articulate what it is I am doing, or at least trying to do. The curriculum is always grounded in this, the joy is being creative with the delivery of it.
Pokémon go is my current interest, I downloaded the app and have ventured out into the real world with my virtual game. The initial spark was that the kids would be interested in it and therefore I should try and find a way to connect curriculum through the game. I am currently developing a plants and animals unit based around it. For example, students would have to create a natural habitat for their Pokémon and justify their choices (or find an existing habitat and select Pokémon that would thrive in it). This can be all well and good, but I have to remember in September to go back to that question. If the kids are no longer interested in it then what’s the point?
Strong colleagues will find a way to challenge you on ideas like the one above in a professional manner. I don’t always have the best ideas, and I believe our profession demands that we push each other and question each other to further our development. Otherwise, what’s the point?