A major concern with education today:
In just as recent as the past 20 years, the world has witnessed vast advancements in almost every aspect of life. We have seen revitalizing technological advancements, art and infrastructural advancements, communication advancements, and superb medical advancements. Although, of all of the beneficial transformations happening in our world, one important part of life that has made little to no transformation at all is the way that our students are being taught in the school setting.
Centuries ago, students’ desks were lined up in rows while the instructor would stand in front of them and lecture with hopes that all students were understanding the information. Today, in the 21st Century, this methodology of teaching is still swarming many schools within our country. We still see desks lined up in rows and teachers standing or sitting in the front of the class lecturing and presenting information onto the boards. The sad part is, this method of teaching is active in grades as early as kindergarten and as late as senior-level courses in high-school. Students are practically seated for 6-8 hours a day listening to a person talk. Think about it, no child, or even adult, would want to remain seated for 6-8 hours a day—just listening. So, why are we continuing to teach this way? Why are we so afraid to break the barriers of the traditionally ran classroom environments and set up an environment that best suits the student learners? Many students dread coming to school each day, and when I asked why they didn't enjoy it, most of them responded by saying, “Because we have to go.” Our students see school as a place that they are forced to go to everyday instead of seeing it as an opportunity to have fun and better prepare themselves for adulthood.
A solution to the concern:
Our classrooms within the US need a makeover. Society is not the same as it was 50 years ago. It is not the same as it was a mere 15 years ago. Our ways of educating our youth must be altered to adapt to the current ways of life. Teachers cannot be stuck on traditional methods of classroom instruction or even the traditional classroom environments. Everything within life is shifting. Students will become uninterested very quickly and have no shame in telling you that something is “boring.” As educators, we cannot fault them for that, we must be learners as well. We must seek to understand the ways that our students learn the best in order keep them interested. Students have proven, day in and day out, that they tend to learn the best when they are having fun and the work is intriguing to them. That is where my solution comes in. I have developed a pedagogy of teaching that I believe will set a new trend for the classroom setting. It will allow the environment of the classroom to ease up and be more welcoming and engaging. Student and teacher relationships will be more interactive and the transference of instructional information will be more feasible for the students. Most importantly, students will have fun while gaining the necessary knowledge needed to succeed in the global workforce of the 21st Century.
What is FlUrNing?
No student should be cheated out of an educational experience that is filled with fun. Students should be able to come to school and be themselves—kids that is—and do “kid things.” Kids love to have fun. This thought led to the creation of a pedagogy that combines students having fun with them also learning the instructional material. This pedagogy is called FlUrNing. FlUrNing is the act of simultaneously having FUN and LEARNING. Imagine a learning environment where students are eager to come to school each day. They are excited about learning new material that, traditionally, would have had a “boring” connotation connected with it. They have the opportunity to laugh and play and interact with classmates all while learning the curriculum.
How FlUrNing works:
FlUrNing is nowhere near a self-acting cure for the gaps within our educational achievement. It is simply a catalyst to invite teachers to alter the way they have been teaching our youth. It promotes the recognition that there is a change happening and to adapt to that change in order to do what is best for the students. The key mission of the FlUrNing pedagogy is to take original lessons or activities and transform them to become more innovative, hands-on and game like. FlUrNing is restructuring your classroom’s way of life. It is creating a learning environment in which the teacher takes a back seat and becomes the facilitator of creative and interactive lessons. It is setting high standards to make it the best learning experience possible.
For example, think about a vocabulary lesson where you are introducing new words to the students. Traditionally, students would be responsible for finding the words in the dictionary and writing them down on paper to turn them in for a grade. I don’t see anything wrong with that activity, except, it is not fun. The students do not have a relationship with the work they are doing. Instead, make it more interactive and innovative. For my class, which practices FlUrNing daily, we took a list of new vocabulary words and competed in Vocabulary Relay against each other to get a better understanding of the words. With this lesson, each student enhanced his or her dictionary skills and learned new words all while having fun and being physically active.
Sitting for a prolonged amount of time has negative effects on the human body. Incorporating physical activity in the classroom has been a topic researched for decades. The Enhance Physical Education Task Force (2014) explained that better health, better behavior and better learners are all positively correlated. Active children show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active.
FlUrNing can work in any classroom. Again, there is no right or wrong way of incorporating FlUrNing with your everyday classroom environment. It is a paradigm shift from the way teaching and learning used to be to how it can be facilitated today and into the future. It can be effective from kindergarten all the way through college because it allows teachers to find ways to meet the needs of each individual learner through games and activities.
Goals of FlUrNing:
I do not intend for every teacher in the country to agree with my pedagogy. Although, I do want teachers, administrators and parents to understand that FlUrNing is an attempt to ensure students obtain a high quality and worthwhile education. Before I implemented a FlUrNing environment, I would have constant battles with my students who portrayed ADHD tendencies or who were diagnosed with ADHD. I kept redirecting them to sit down or stop moving so much; even though they could not help it. At some point, I decided to give in and foster that energy into his or her learning. In return, I started to witness fewer problematic behaviors out of those students and encouraged them to practice self-control. With FlUrNing, teachers, just as I did, will notice that hyperactive students will have the ability to let their true talents shine because they aren’t being howled at to sit down and stay still. These students are able to move about and experience learning in ways that best suits them.
If as little as one more educator understands the shift that I am trying to make within the education system, we will be on the right path for change. Our classrooms need a makeover. We must work together to do what is best for our students. I am not saying that we need to get rid of sitting in desks and listening to teachers. This delivery of instruction is highly effective for many students and teachers. What I am saying is that our teachers need to find ways to innovate instruction to make it more fun for our scholars. Teachers need to find ways to make the instruction more effective to improve our relatively low reading and math levels. Our society is stuck on saying that it is impossible to close, or even shrink, the achievement gap. Respectfully, nothing is impossible. It just means that everyone else who has tried--failed. I will not fail, and I hope you will not either.