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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Therapist and Teacher Spend Time As Students

A therapist goes to middle school and tries to sit still and focus. She can’t. Neither can the kids.

"I’m immersed in a local middle-school classroom environment. I quickly realize I’m not the only one having a hard time paying attention. About 50 percent of the children are fidgeting and most of the remaining children are either slouched in the most unnatural positions imaginable or slumped over their desks. A child suddenly gets up to sharpen their pencil. A few minutes later, another child raises their hand and asks to go to the bathroom. In fact, at least three children have asked to go to the bathroom in the past twenty minutes. I’m mentally exhausted and the day has just begun. I was planning on observing the whole day. I just can’t do it. I decide to leave right after lunch."

Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns

"I could not believe how tired I was after the first day... In every class for four long blocks, the expectation was for us to come in, take our seats, and sit down for the duration of the time. By the end of the day, I could not stop yawning and I was desperate to move or stretch... I was drained, and not in a good, long, productive-day kind of way. No, it was that icky, lethargic tired feeling. I had planned to go back to my office and jot down some initial notes on the day, but I was so drained I couldn’t do anything that involved mental effort (so instead I watched TV) and I was in bed by 8:30.

High school students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90 percent of their classes... It was not just the sitting that was draining but that so much of the day was spent absorbing information but not often grappling with it... I was struck by this takeaway in particular because it made me realize how little autonomy students have, how little of their learning they are directing or choosing.

I lost count of how many times we were told be quiet and pay attention... It’s really hard to do, and not something we ask adults to do day in and out... I have a lot more respect and empathy for students after just one day of being one again. Teachers work hard, but I now think that conscientious students work harder."

On one hand, it's nice how teachers and therapists are conducting these practices. On the other hand, it's troubling when some adults need to go back to school to realize the obvious. Did they suddenly erase their teenage years when they graduated?

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