What exciting activities do you have planned for today?
I need to learn to be more patient when responding to this question because it immediately puts me offside and I have to struggle to be polite. It presupposes that my role as a teacher is to entertain children when in fact I'm trying to shift the culture in my room to one of listening to children.
How many times have we said that our aim is to create life-long learners? Learning is a self-motivated and internally driven process based on curiosity, enthusiasm and desire for the accumulation of knowledge and the building of understanding. Children who need to be entertained are not internally driven and if they grow used to a social environment in which they are constantly entertained they will likely remain unmotivated and looking to others to push and prod them so that they can endure the process of learning.
If your aim is to engage in education as a means to a successful future, endurance is not the best path to take. Endurance isn't the best path to anything. Life shouldn't be about preparing to be happy in the future. I know I'm just as guilty of this as the next person, but life (and if it includes learning) should be fun now. Learning should be something we enjoy doing and something we want to do. If we make it into a chore for children they may not see the fun in it.
If we provide an environment conducive to learning children will be itching to respond to it. It's only when we step back a bit that children will feel that they have the space to exercise their sense of agency. When we give them permission to have agency in their learning they will flourish. I've seen it. They come to life before your eyes. If we start listening we will uncover what they're interested in, what they want to learn, what they love, what they're driven by, possibly even what they were born to do.
If we tell them what they need to learn we won't see them light up from inside. We won't see them tackle a task with a level of determination and persistence that we didn't know they were capable of. We won't see them extend their attention span far past the point that we thought was possible. People who achieve great things in life don't worry about how many hours they work, how much they get paid or how challenging the obstacles are. They have a passion that surpasses these tedious elements of endurance. Passion provides energy and enables us to exceed our own expectations. This is what I would wish for any child.