Sunday, October 7, 2012

An Informal Lesson in Responsibility & Independence

Currently, I'm student teaching in a 4th grade class. Despite being much older than kindergartners, they still rely quite a bit on grown ups. I sit in the back. Immediately behind me is a few book shelves.

Students were working on a quiz from Babe. Most students had finished responding to the quiz. Usually, when that happens, they can grab a book from the shelves behind me. It's about time for everyone to be finished with the quiz, so Ms. Massey announces that its time for everyone to put their books away.

One of the students walks up to me and just hands me a book. Without thinking, I accept the book and put it away for her. Right after I did that, I started questioning myself. "Why did I accept her book? It's her book. I shouldn't be putting it away for her. Why didn't she put it away? How would an adult behave in her situation? I want to think that most adults would simply put the book back. That's what these students should be doing too."

So, another student comes up to me. He tries to hand me a book to put away for him. This time I deflect that attempt. I told him that he can put it back himself.

It sounds like I'm being a jerk. But, these kids are still young. I don't want to lead them to the assumption that how ever small the work may be, they can ask an adult to complete it for them even though they could very well complete the work themselves. Not only can that be intellectually stunting, but stunting to their sense of independence as well.

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